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|Type of business||Private|
Type of site
|Financial advisory services|
|Area served||United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong|
|Founder(s)||David Gardner |
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 stock news and analysis on its website.
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, Mark Hulbert's Hulbert Financial Digest ranked the performance of over 200 investment-advisory services over the last five years. Three Motley Fool services ranked in the top 3 positions. Motley Fool's most popular service is the Stock Advisor program which offers investors stock pick recommendations based on fundamental and technical analysis.
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 gained national recognition after they were profiled in the "Talk of the Town" section of the New Yorker. 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 The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek bestseller.Bloomberg wrote about The Motley Fool's "Fanatical following." 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.
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."