Brief - The Hustle

Human IPO wants you to buy shares in regular people

Written by Michael Waters | Jun 24, 2020 8:24:34 AM

Finally, we have a viable counterpart to Michael Scott’s iconic announcement, “I declare bankruptcy!” Now every midlevel worker in Silicon Valley is shouting into their apartments, “I’m going public!”

That’s right: You can now invest in humans. Entrepreneurs and futurists are selling up to 500 hours of their time — priced at 1 hour per share — over at Human IPO.

The NASDAQ is shaking 

Human IPO has been around since October, but it didn’t hit most people’s feeds until recent weeks.

The idea is this: As the people behind the IPOs become more successful, their time will get more valuable.

Let’s say you bought 10 shares — 10 hours — of Mark Zuckerberg’s time back in 2003, before Facebook launched. Probably pretty cheap. But now that 10 hours with Zuck is worth millions.

For now, you can set your own share price. But Human IPO is working on an algorithm that uses LinkedIn and Glassdoor to automatically give you a price.

Assigning values to people — what could go wrong? 

You can imagine Human IPO making literal Silicon Valley’s pay disparities for women and people of color. What happens if the app starts placing higher price tags on one group of people?

If all of this is giving you flashbacks to failed startups of years past, you aren’t alone. Human IPO shares a core pitch of Fantex Holdings, a disbanded company that let people buy shares in pro athletes.

Not to mention: Human IPO’s general aura of dystopia feels a lot like Peeple, the “Yelp for People” app that launched in 2016.

Want to know what it’s like to sell shares of yourself? Read our deep dive from 2017.