I’ve been a publicly traded person since 2008, and I’ve always called myself the “first” because I hoped more would come after. Today, 12 years later, the prophecy has been fulfilled! Alex Masmej has used cryptocurrency to become the second publicly traded person. I first spoke with Alex when we were both on a panel about personal tokens but thought it was worth following up.
Mike: Let’s start with the basics, who are you? Where do live? What do you do? Give me a little sense of who you are…
Alex: Hi Mike, thanks! I’m Alex Masmej, 23, and I currently live in Paris. I’ve been an entrepreneur in the crypto(currency) space, doing projects on Ethereum (the second biggest blockchain after Bitcoin) for the past year.
My latest project is the launch of my “personal token,” called $ALEX. By using crypto technology I can enable all sorts of financial combinations that would be very complicated if not impossible to replicate in traditional finance.
Mike: All I want to do is build financial complications into my life. I’m a little jealous.
Alex: Don’t be too hard on yourself! My token is built with “blockchain smart contracts”, which didn’t exist when you started trading yourself!
Mike: The age difference between us speaks a lot to our choice of technologies (you were 11 when I launched my project?) and is one of the reasons I’m really excited about your project. You are basically a “crypto-native” while I have been enamored with crypto since I first heard about it in 2010 or 2011. Can you tell me about some of your other crypto projects?
Alex: Sure! So I co-founded Marketing DAO, which is a grants organization to market Ethereum. A “DAO” is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, meaning anyone can join the entity on the blockchain without being legally registered. The more money you put in, the more voting power you have.
Mike: I like this already.
Alex: It’s like website software meets legal entity, and it’s a whole new way to form companies with a flatter hierarchy, unique to Ethereum. We got support from Consensys, one of the biggest crypto firms, which helped us to fulfill our mission to be the largest Ethereum marketing agency, done the Ethereum way. It was the first entity of this type, “DAO”, to be incorporated in the USA.
Another project is Rocket, a lending platform that instead of using your credit score, asks for Ethereum “native collateral”. This can be a domain name, video game real estate or even digital art (yes, artists do art on the blockchain and can make money off it).
These two projects are innovating where normal finance can’t. Having my personal token is another, and I’m gonna try my best to push what you did even further!
Mike: Let’s back up just a bit. What is the simplest way to describe a “personal token”?
Alex: A personal token is a cryptocurrency directly tied to a person. There are a few common types currently in use:
- Selling your time
- Selling your future
- Selling “exclusive access” to something (a chatroom, newsletter, etc)
- Doing life choices like KmikeyM
The first type is typically used for freelancer services, especially if the person has a highly sought after skill. By using a personal token they get more money upfront as people buy the token, and then redeem it later.
The second type is a novel form of Income Sharing Agreements (ISA), which works well for people with some kind of community backing. They are monetizing their perceived future potential (this is what I did recently).
The third type you could call “credentialism,” or a gratitude token. It’s like getting a letter of recommendation from someone. For instance, Vitalik Buterin, the inventor and one of the most respected people in the industry, could give out a “Great Developer by Vitalik Buterin” token. That would be like a diploma of its own.
Mike: That reminds of me of the challenge coins people of high rank would give out when I was in the Army.
Alex: Exactly, only this would be a digital version. The fourth type, allows people to vote on choices that the creator of a token puts up, weighted by how many tokens they hold. This is basically what you’re doing, just without a crypto token.
In my case, using the $ALEX token, the execution is different than yours. Holders of the token “sign” with their cryptographic key (which is just selecting the “sign” button in their crypto wallet). That uniquely proves they own the address their wallet is logged in with. Then I count all the $ALEX present in all addresses that voted, and since 1 $ALEX = 1 vote, the more $ALEX a person has, the heavier you vote, just like you.
Mike: Alright I’m sold. Let me buy some $ALEX. Before you launched $ALEX what did you hope to accomplish with it? I ask because when I started KmikeyM I thought it was just going to be a way to work on projects with people, and then it became about my personal life!
Alex: My first token someone created for me back in July to “tokenize my debt” of $1,500 that he lent me to attend a conference (not $ALEX). This meant that as I was paying him back others could trade the remaining debt and receive a small profit from the interest rate.
That is when Roll contacted me, saying they could create a token for me in a more broad sense, encapsulating my growing community. When I started it I had nothing in mind. I barely had 700 followers so no one really cared. At first I said 25,000 tokens would be an hour of my time (in total, they are 10,000,000 $ALEX tokens).
Mike: Who bought $ALEX and what did they get?
Alex: Not much happened for a few months. In March, COVID-19 happened and I lost a contract job that was my major source of income. This happened just a few days before I was scheduled to give a talk about personal tokens on the mainstage of a major blockchain conference in Paris. So I decided to wing it and announce that I would be raising $20,000 against 1M $ALEX tokens, and I’d give 15% of my income for the next 3 years to those that bought this special version of my token. A month later, I created a Google form where people could register to buy into my future, and everything started spiralling… in five days I was oversubscribed and the major crypto media outlets started talking about it.
In May I launched a chatroom which let people join a private chat with me, but they have to verify that they at least own 1 $ALEX in order to get in. It’s fun because it feels exclusive to them.
Then in June, inspired by you, and with help from a famous developer named Austin Griffith, I launched “Control My Life”, which allows holders of $ALEX to vote on my life decisions just like I described earlier. I started with a daily habit, and they chose running 5 km a day. As of this writing, I’ve kept my promise and I’m running everyday!
Mike: That’s fantastic! So what is next? Are you planning more votes? Are you asking for help finding your next job?
Alex: I haven’t thought about more votes too deeply, but perhaps I’ll let them choose the next book I read, what my diet should be, or another small action… I’m inspired by what you did so I might copy some of your stuff. 🙂 But I can’t commit too much because I’m working on my plan to found a startup in Silicon Valley and raise funds there. I already have many connections, countless ideas, and I’m planning to move long term to the United States (hopefully in early 2021).
Here’s the panel we were on with Kerman Kohli and Bradley Miles.