• IPO,  share trade,  VOC

    The world’s first IPO

    The Dutch East India Company (VOC) held its ‘initial public offering’ (IPO) in August 1602. It was the first of its kind in world history and therefore a key event in financial history, and the history of the capitalist world. A public share issue The IPO had been announced in the VOC charter—the company’s founding document of March 20, 1602. “All the residents of these lands,” stated article 10, “may buy shares in this Company.” Subscribers could decide for themselves how much to invest: there was no minimum or maximum. The next article stated that posters would be put up announcing the IPO. There had been companies before the VOC…

  • Dutch Republic,  IPO,  VOC

    The world’s first public company, founded by the state

    It sounds odd, but it is true: the world’s first public company was founded by a state government. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) owed its existence to the States General of the Dutch Republic and in particular to Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (pictured below). Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619), painted by Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt around 1616 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. License: CC0 A forced merger Before the founding of the VOC in 1602, there were already Dutch companies that sent expeditions to East Asia to trade spices. They were temporary enterprises—generally referred to as the precompanies (voorcompagnieën). In 1595 the flotilla of the earliest precompany, the Compagnie van Verre, set…