Not the sentence itself, that's in Mackay's "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds", number 17 on the list of bubbles (companies) on page 57 of the 1852 edition (later editions have further embellishments). Rather the story itself probably isn't true.
Trust me, I encouraged smarter people than I to do their archival-researcher best looking for either an advertisement or prospectus to no avail. Zip, zilch, nada.
I made mention of this in the outro from a March 2016 post: "Dropbox May No Longer Be A Decacorn: Company Okays a Secondary Transaction At A 34% Discount To the Last Round's Valuation"
...Even the eager Uber investors going into Morgan Stanley's New Riders L.P. got a bit more than Business Insider, not that there's anything wrong with Axel Springer's newest acquisition, but still, a blind pool is a blind pool and if there was any truth to the hoary old South Sea Bubble story first promoted by Mackay in Extraordinary Delusions: "A company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is." I'd trot it out right here, but alas there is no contemporaneous mention of that speculation nor any offering document ephemera so I'll have to be satisfied with a:But this skepticism isn't unique to me. It turns out others trod the same ground before I and found no sign. Here's Jason Zweig at the Wall Street Journal in 2011:
...Readers should bear in mind that Mackay was a storyteller, and that modern researchers have been unable to confirm some of his best-known anecdotes—and have disproved others altogether.This has been a much longer than usual introduction to what is actually a short story. From ZeroHedge:
Mackay describes what investors today would call a “blind pool,” an initial public offering, or IPO, that raises capital for undisclosed purposes:
…the most absurd and preposterous of all [stock offerings], and which [showed], more completely than any other, the utter madness of the people, was one started by an unknown adventurer, entitled, “A company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.”Bloggers frequently cite this example when they want to declare something a bubble-in-the-making; a quick Google search turns up nearly 13,000 hits on “a company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage.”...MUCH MORE
Not A Bubble?
Meet The Crypto Company - up almost 20,000% since inception in September..
To a market cap of over $12.6 billion...
Grant's Interest Rate Observer drew the world's attention to this 'company' yesterday...Ah yes, the 'ol "providing institutions and individuals direct exposure to the growth of global blockchain developments but no one to know what it is" business.
Shares in over-the-counter name The Crypto Company, which listed in May and traded around $20 as recently as Dec 1st, have gone on a parabolic run in the last ten days - trading as high as $642.
That gives the Malibu, California-based business a market capitalization of $12.6 billion.
Valuing the Crupto Co. is somewhat difficult, as the only public filing on Edgar (the SEC website), is its securities offering document, in which it ticks the box "decline to disclose" under revenue range.
The company's website does note that it's in the business of providing "institutions and individuals direct exposure to the growth of global blockchain developments."..MORE