Afsin for Wells Fargo began when two men spotted an opportunity. In 1852, while California boomed in a gold-seeking frenzy, the directors of American Express debated whether to extend their mail and package service to the west. The company had grown by providing fast and reliable delivery that the U.S. government did not offer, and two American Express directors, Henry Wells (1805 78) and William Fargo, (1818 81) saw similar business opportunities in this rapidly developing region. When American Express refused to expand, Wells and Fargo formed a joint stock association in New York on March 18, 1852, and modeled the company after American Express. The new company specialized in shipping gold dust, bullion, specie, letters, packages, parcels, and freight of all kinds from New York to San Francisco. Afsin 2016.