The First Short: Isaac Le Maire

Isaac Le Maire was originally on the Dutch East India Co. (VOC) board of directors, but stepped down in 1605 amid controversy. To exact revenge on the VOC, he began a short-selling campaign (i.e. “bear raid”) designed to bring down the company’s share price. Some historians consider this an early form of shareholder activism, as Le Maire felt the company was making decisions against the interest of shareholders, and felt the only way to gain their attention was through shorting the stock. Eventually, the VOC convinced the Dutch government to put a ban on naked short selling, which ruined Le Maire’s campaign.


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