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How Much Power Can Shareholders Have?

If you're one of those people who thinks you know what's best for others as well as yourself, you need to buy a piece of Mike Merrill. No, Merrill is not a business, per se. He's just a regular guy, but in 2008, Merrill came up with a unique idea for making money: by selling himself like a corporation. At 30 years old, Merrill figuratively divided himself into shares -- 100,000 of them, to be exact -- and became the first person to become publicly traded. He set an initial offering price of $1 USD per share, and within days, his friends and some acquaintances had purchased 929 shares of him. Though Merrill continued to remain the majority stockholder in himself, he vowed to let buyers make life decisions for him, such as what he should purchase and even whom he should date. At first it was all fun, but over time things got tense, as investors bickered over Merrill's actions, mountains of legal paperwork piled up, and his relationships became strained. Still, Merrill has stayed true to his endeavor, continuing to base many of his life decisions on what stockholders want him to do. As of 2019, 805 investors from all over the world own 11,823 shares of Mike Merrill.

Taking stock:

  • When Wall Street opened in 1685, it was protected by a 12-foot (3.7-m) tall wood stockade that was meant to protect the Dutch settlers from attacks by Native Americans and English colonists.

  • The most expensive stock in history is Berkshire Hathaway, which trades for more than $315,000 USD a share, as of 2019.

  • The world's first stock exchange was the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, which was opened in 1602 by the Dutch East India Co.

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