In Medieval Europe when most people were living short, brutish lives wallowing in muddy serfdom, there was one city that served as a shining economic beacon for the rest of the continent: Venice.
At the time, Venice was one of the richest places in the known world, underpinned by its dominance in trade and the upward mobility of its citizens.
The concept of what we know today as “America” was alive and well in Venice during the Middle Ages; Venice was a place where, with guts, hard work, and a little bit of luck, you could become very wealthy and live the Venetian Dream.
The modern Limited Partnership structure, in fact, is derived from an early Venetian model called the ‘commenda’, a sort of special purpose vehicle for trade missions.
A standard commenda involved young entrepreneurs with a lot of energy but no capital partnering with older veterans with a lot of capital but no energy. The old guys would finance a trade mission to Asia, and the young guy would head off to foreign lands to make money.