Equity in Individuals

It will come as no surprise to learn that an eBay auction for half the future earnings of musician Ashley MacIsaac has had to be pulled: according to eBay regulations, you’re not allowed to sell part ownership of anything, much less a person. And in any case, there was never much likelihood that bidding would ever reach the reserve price of C$1.5 million: there was no prospectus, no detail on past or possible future earnings, and the whole system seemed to be set up to minimize MacIsaac’s incentives to work in the music industry. (He would earn nothing from any such work until the winning bid was paid back in full.)

Nevertheless, deals like the Madonna contract with Live Nation hint at growing acceptance of the idea that individuals can sell their future income stream. And if the "jock exchange" profiled by Michael Lewis in the very first issue of Portfolio ever gets up and running, maybe at some point it could start listing not only athletes but just about anybody who wants to monetize their future income. If companies can raise equity, why not individuals?

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