What was the best investment ever?

Some great responses to the question on Quora – first up, Benedict Evans goes back to the 15th century:

Ferdinand & Isabella’s decision to back Columbus paid off pretty well. Spain ruled most of the south American continent for the next 300 years and used the flow of silver to pay for armies that made it the leading power in Europe for 150 years.

To give one illustration, Wikipedia reckons the Potosi mines alone generated 8,200 metric tons of silver directly for the Spanish crown, which at today’s prices (not the best guide, of course) would be worth $9.7bn.

Then there’s Genghis Khan’s decision to take his tribe over the horizon and see what was there. End result – an empire that covered half the world, including China and the middle east.

It would be interesting to see the return on East India Company stock, too

Bart Greenberg likes Big Apple real estate over the long run:

Peter Minuit’s purchase of Manhattan from Native Americans for the legendary sum of 60 Dutch guilders, or $24.00

Talmadge O’Neill looks at nominal values and sees more to admire in recent history:

Here are a couple of good potential candidates that all turned a few million into a few billion in a few years (not a few centuries):

1. Hepalink

Goldman Sachs invested $4.9m in 2007 to buy a 12.5 per cent stake in Hepalink and got a 235x return when the company went public in May 2010. That’s about a $1B gain on a $5 million investment in 3 years.

Source: https://www.businessweek.com/news…

2. Groupon

In January 2007, Eric Lefkofsky provided $1 million in “seed money” to ThePoint, later Groupon. It is estimated that he owns about 30% of Groupon making his current investment worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $1B after 5+ years.

Source: http://www.suntimes.com/business… and http://blogs.forbes.com/luisakro…

3. Facebook

In the Summer of 2004, Peter Thiel invests $500K in Facebook for a 10% stake now worth $5-10B.

Source: http://www.facebook.com/press/in…

4. Google

In 1999, Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins paid $25M for a 20% stake in Google which when Google went public in August 2004 was worth approximately $5B.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kle…

5. eBay

In 1997, Benchmark invest $6.7 million in eBay. In 1999, this stake was worth $5B.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben…