Social capital is becoming economic capital.
Alex Masmej revered Steve Jobs—his favorite shirt was emblazoned with Apples that changed the world: Adam’s, Isaac’s, Steve’s. Masmej dreamed of moving to Silicon Valley to start his own company, but he just didn’t have the money. In April 2020, as the world reeled from the coronavirus pandemic, Masmej found himself stuck in his home city of Paris.
So Masmej did something few 23-year-olds would think to do: He tokenized himself. That is, he created a financial instrument known as a social token, a form of cryptocurrency whose value revolves around a person, to sell shares in himself. Holders of $ALEX would receive 15 percent of Masmej’s income for the next three years, capped at $100,000 overall, and would be able to exchange tokens for special privileges: 10,000 $ALEX bought a retweet from Masmej on Twitter; 20,000 $ALEX, a one-on-one conversation with him; 30,000 $ALEX, an introduction to someone in his network. In five days, Masmej raised $20,092, enough to send him across the Atlantic to San Francisco to launch his start-up.