In brief

  • Alex Masmej has sold tokenized versions of himself online.
  • He raised $20,000.
  • He said he will pay out a share of his income, but the contract isn't enforceable.

Alex Masmej dreams of being a Silicon Valley demi-god. And the 23-year-old Parisian sold himself via an ICO last week to reach that lofty goal.

More specifically, Masmej is selling tokens—called $ALEX—so that true believers in Alex Masmej can buy fractional shares in him and his success. 

Thus far, 30 investors participated in the ICO for $ALEX, which generated $20,092 for his voyage across the Atlantic, he claimed. The token sale ended on April 12, after 5 days.

According to CoinGecko, one $ALEX token is worth $0.01. 

What can one do with an $ALEX? What can’t one do? Behold:

  • $ALEX hodlers are promised a share of any money he makes in the next three years! (He'll pay out up to a total of $100,000 over three years—the rest is Masmej's to keep).
  • $ALEX hodlers can vote on some of his life decisions!
  • $ALEX hodlers can request that he promotes them via his social media channels!

At last count, Alex had 3,258 followers on Twitter, 517 followers on Instagram, and over 500 connections on LinkedIn.

Masmej, in return for this new kind of indentured servitude, promises to devote himself to opening up new businesses. He told Decrypt that he has plans to create a decentralized finance startup that focuses on consumer savings. “Not only you could get up to 5X ROI in 3 years, but you can profit from $ALEX market price too,” he proclaimed

A man named Masmej

Who is this man who puts the chutzpah in ICO? After dropping out of England’s Manchester University in 2017, Masmej co-founded a startup in the UK that matched paper sketches with 3D designers. He said it failed after six months. Next, he moved back to his native Paris to start a meet-up. 

Then, in July 2019, Masmej said he moved to San Francisco, California, where he started a crypto-collectibles loans company, RocketNFT, and a decentralized marketing initiative, MarketingDAO, both of which are still functional.

Best of all, and perhaps most magically: In a city known for its insanely high rents, Masmej said he managed to get four months of free rent in San Francisco between July and December 2019 when French billionaire Xavier Niel housed him in his coding school, 42. Masmej said he dropped out of “very early” to focus on his crypto projects.  

Masmej said he is now back in Paris, but intends to move back to San Francisco as soon as he can, and plans to stay there. Hence the token raise. “Moving to SF is also the best place in the west for both capital & tech talents,” he explained. “Most extraordinary people I know live in SF.” Though he wouldn’t yet define himself as extraordinary, “my ‘slope’ has been accelerating in the past year; yet I’m super unproven.” 

One wealthy benefactor

Chris Furlong, who runs blockchain consultancy Blockstar Studio, is among the 30 investors in Masmej's ICO. Captivated by the novelty of Masmej's story, Furlong bought 4-5 ETH ($600-$750) worth of the about-to-be-wunderkind. 

“I did it because I liked the story,” he told Decrypt. Furlong said he applauded Masmej's innovation within blockchain marketing—like Masmej, Furlong works on product design and marketing, but “can’t code to save my life.” 

Furlong is looking to wade deeper into blockchain marketing and product design, and thinks that Masmej “is a good person to know, and a good person to back.” Buying shares in Masmej will net him “connections, access, and network. Someone whose brain I can pick.” 

He said he would abstain in most votes that decide Masmej's fate. 

Furlong considers his investment in Masmej a digital version of the patronage system, like discovering an emerging artist and “giving them the ability to buy paint, a canvas, and studio space.” 

The fine print

Is an investment in Masmej too good to be true? “Since there [are] no legal contracts, I can technically run away with the money,” he said. And even though the $20,000 he’s raised is stored in a public, viewable wallet on the blockchain, Masmej said he “could transparently drain it.”

But the reason he wouldn’t do so is because “it will hurt my reputation amongst those very people I need help from,” he said, citing investors and fellow founders. “My personal brand revolves around transparency,” he said, adding that “it’s more likely that I just don’t make money and pay back very little.”

And what about the SEC, the regulatory body that is vested with enforcing securities laws? 

Though Masmej said in his ICO advertisement that his token is not a security, he conceded to Decrypt that “maybe,” those claiming it is might have a point. He is hoping that either way, by raising such a small amount of moolah, from just 30 investors, “the SEC will not care about me,” he said.

In any case, Masmej points out that Block.One raised $4 billion and got a $20 million slap on the wrist. The demi-god wannabe Masmej told us that he is definitely “willing to pay that %” should it come to that.