Dutch East India Company was established in 1602 by the Netherlands to carry out colonial interests in Asia. Originally set up to profit from the highly-prized spice trade, the Dutch East India Company quickly grew to become the number one trader of Asian goods in all of Europe.
At its height in the late 17th – early 18th centuries, the company had nearly 5,000 ships and had traded more than 2.5 million tons of goods from Asia. But, by the 19th century, the company went bankrupt. Despite its eventual collapse, the Dutch East India Company was a significant sign of things to come in the world of commerce. It is thought to be the world’s first multinational corporation, and it was the first company to ever issue stock.