Some of you may be familiar with my various blog posts relating to personal branding.  (See here, here, here, and here.)  This past month, I became aware of what I believe to be a very first in the realm of personal branding:  selling stock ownership in it.  A company called Fantex Holdings is going to sell stock in the career of Arian Foster.  (See New York Times article here.)  Arian Foster will promise Fantex 20% of his future earnings in exchange for a $10 million up front payment.  The Preliminary Prospectus filed with the SEC is available here.  It is expected that Foster will be the first of many athletes and celebrities to sell a piece of themselves on the Fantex exchange, and indeed, Vernon Davis has also signed up.

This obviously opens up a bunch of intriguing possibilities, but the most intriguing to me is the possiblity of a system which potentially tracks the benefits and damages to personal brands based on individual accomplishments or scandals.  For example, how much would Tiger Woods’s stock price jump after he wins the Masters compared to how much it drops when it comes to light that he was out pretending to be a pornstar?  What happens to Lance Armstrong’s stock after he is stripped of his only defining accomplishments because he was a cheater? What happens to Kim Kardashians stock after she releases a new sex tape?

The Fantex exchange would also present the potential for some interesting sociological analysis.  Do various actions and scandals affect the values of men/women, white/black, old/young differently?Also, a Fantex exchange could theoretically create a measure for damages in the defamation context.  If, for example, a stock takes a major hit following a spurious report of malfeasance, this drop could be a quantified measure of reputational damages.  Of course, all of this is merely theoretical at this point.  There’s nothing to say that the Fantex exchange will take off, or that it will garner sufficient interest to have meaningful changes in the stock price.  I could see this becoming similar to Green Bay Packers “ownership” where super fans pony up a little cash for a piece of the team that has no marketable value.  Nonetheless, the creation of this exchange gives rise to some interesting possibilities.