The Motley Fool
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|Type of business||Private|
Type of site
|Financial advisory services|
|Headquarters||Alexandria, Virginia, United States|
|Area served||US, UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong|
|Founder(s)||David Gardner and Tom Gardner, and Erik Rydholm|
The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial services company that provides financial advice for investors through various stock, investing, and personal finance services. The Alexandria, Virginia-based private company was founded in July 1993 by co-chairmen and brothers David Gardner and Tom Gardner, and Erik Rydholm, who has since left the company. The company employs over 300 people.
The Motley Fool, LLC offers a wide range of free stock news and analysis at its flagship website, www.fool.com. In April 2002, the company launched the first of its premium subscription services, Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Since then, they’ve maintained a consistent buy-and-hold style, tending to let their winning stocks compound returns over longer periods of time.
The services, which provide online stock analysis and research with interactive discussion boards and other tools, cover a range of styles from small caps to international stocks, to options, to shorting. The Motley Fool has operations in the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan In 2013, the Hulbert Financial Digest ranked the performance of 200-plus investment-advisory services over the last five years. Three Motley Fool services ranked in the top 3 positions. In 2017, Motley Fool Asset Management launched its first exchange traded fund Fool100 (TMFC). The Fool100 Index tracks the largest, most liquid U.S. companies that have been recommended by The Motley Fool LLC's analysts. The Motley Fool's sister company, Motley Fool Asset Management, LLC is the investment advisor to three mutual funds.
Podcasts & Newspaper Column
- The Motley Fool runs the Motley Fool Money radio show and four other podcasts, including:
- Rule Breaking Investing hosted by David Gardner
- Motley Fool Answers
- Industry Focus
- Market Foolery
In August 1994, brothers David and Tom Gardner parlayed their one-year-old investment newsletter into a content partnership with America Online. An April Fool's joke designed to teach an investing lesson would put The Motley Fool on the map, and in The Wall Street Journal, for the first time. Tom and David became the talk of the town (literally) after they were profiled in the New Yorker “Talk of the Town” section. The story caught the attention of a talent agent in Manhattan who helped Tom and David land a book deal. The Motley Fool Investment Guide would go on to become a New York Times and Business Week bestseller. Bloomberg wrote about The Motley Fool's "Fanatical following." In Time Magazine, David declared: "This is a revolution." Tom and David found themselves the cover story for the April 15, 1996 edition of Fortune Magazine. In a PBS Frontline episode from January 14, 1997, a skeptical reporter digs deep into the stock market frenzy that is taking over in America...including those who are going online and "getting lots of so-called advice" from a bunch of "20-somethings". In April 1997, the site was moved from AOL to the Fool.com website.
In 1999, Motley Fool ran into controversy with its eventually discredited Foolish Four investment theory, which had been marketed as a way to "crush mutual funds [in] only 15 minutes a year" by using a simple mathematical formula to find stocks likely to grow much more than average. This stock-picking technique was referred to as "investment hogwash in its purest form" by Money writer Jason Zweig in an August 1999 article titled "False Profits."  Zweig also called it "one of the most cockamamie stock-picking formulas ever concocted" in his 2003 commentary in the revised edition of Benjamin Graham's acclaimed Value investing book, The Intelligent Investor.
Motley Fool writer Ann Coleman admitted in 2000 that the Foolish Four method "turned out to be not nearly as wonderful a strategy as we thought."
During the financial crisis and the dot-com bubble collapse in 2001, the company ran into trouble, resulting in the loss of 80% of the staff in a series of three layoffs and the closure of its operations in Germany and Japan.
Following the 2000–2002 stock market downturn, Motley Fool shifted from an advertising-based business model to a subscription-based business model. In April 2002, the company launched the first of its premium subscription services. David and Tom Gardner pick one stock each month in a brotherly competition to best each other and the S&P 500. They maintain a consistent buy-and-hold style, tending to let their winning stocks compound returns over longer periods of time.
Since inception, The Motley Fool has championed a level-playing field for individual investors. Over the years, they have testified against mutual fund fees, in support of fair financial disclosure, on the collapse of Enron, and the IPO process.
In 1999, the SEC proposed Regulation Fair Disclosure, which would require companies to simultaneously give important information to Wall Street analysts and the public at large. In December 1999, Bill Barker wrote an article titled "SEC Levels Playing Field" on Fool.com and told readers to go to the SEC's site and post a comment. In the July 2, 2001 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Arthur Levitt former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman is quoted saying “Two thirds of our letters came from Fools. Without them, Reg FD would not have happened.” 
The company received the 2014 and 2015 nationwide honor for being "the No. 1 Medium-Sized Company to Work for in the United States" from Glassdoor.com. In 2017, Washingtonian named The Motley Fool in their 50 Greatest Places to Work in DC. In that same year, DC Inno named The Motley Fool one of the "coolest" places to work in Washington, D.C. Its employees are given significant flexibility, for example, unlimited vacation time, in addition to numerous benefits, including traditional benefits such as health insurance as well as unique benefits such as haircuts and money specifically earmarked for investing in publicly traded companies.
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