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The Motley Fool is a private financial and investing advice company based in Alexandria, Va. It was founded in July 1993 by co-chairmen and brothers David Gardner and Tom Gardner, and Erik Rydholm, who has since left the company.

Motley Fool
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Financial advisory services
FoundedJuly 1993; 26 years ago (1993-07)
United States
Area servedUnited States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong
OwnerThe Motley Fool, LLC
Founder(s)David Gardner
Tom Gardner
Erik Rydholm

Its main business is online subscription services with investing recommendations, stock research, and analysis. The company employs over 300 people worldwide.[citation needed]

The nameEdit

The name “Motley Fool” is taken from Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It.[1] It references the one character — the court jester — who could speak the truth to the king without having their head lopped off.


Early yearsEdit

In 1994, an April Fool's joke designed to teach an investing lesson put The Motley Fool on the map, and in The Wall Street Journal, for the first time.[2] In August of that year, the Gardners parlayed their one-year-old investment newsletter into a content partnership with America Online.[3] They were profiled in the "Talk of the Town" section of the New Yorker.[4]

In 1996, David and Tom Gardner published The Motley Fool Investment Guide, which became a The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek bestseller.[5] The company continued to attract media attention. Bloomberg wrote about The Motley Fool's "Fanatical following,"[6] while a more skeptical PBS Frontline episode from Jan. 14, 1997 described the company as made up of "20-somethings" giving "so-called advice."[7]

The site moved in April 1997, from the AOL platform to its own website, where it continued to provide investing advice under an advertising-based revenue model.

"Foolish Four" and dot-com bustEdit

In 1999, the Motley Fool was criticized by Money magazine writer Jason Zweig in an article titled "False Profits." [8] for its "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.[9][10] In 2000, Motley Fool writer Ann Coleman admitted that the Foolish Four method "turned out to be not nearly as wonderful a strategy as we thought."[11]

During the dot-com bubble and market collapse of 2001, the company ran into trouble, resulting in the loss of 80% of the staff in a series of three layoffs.[12] It also closed its operations in Germany and Japan, which have since been reestablished.


In April 2002, The Motley Fool shifted to a subscription-based business model with the launch of its first subscription service for investment advice.[13][14]

The company also established free and subscription-based businesses in several countries. As of 2019, The Motley Fool has operations in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, and Japan. It announced in October 2019 that it was shutting down operations in Singapore.[15]

In August 2018, the company launched a personal-finance sub-brand called The Ascent.[16] They provide personal finance product reviews and free educational resources. They have business relationships with companies that offer financial products like credit cards, personal loans, and bank accounts. In exchange for new customers, affiliated companies pay The Ascent a success fee.[17]

In September 2019, the Motley Fool launched two more sub-brands: Millionacres, which provides a subscription-based real estate investing product along with free real estate resources,[18][19] and The Blueprint, which provides reviews of business software. The Blueprint also has affiliate relationships with business software companies and is paid a success fee for approved new customers.

Legislative effortsEdit

Representatives of The Motley Fool have testified before Congress against mutual fund fees,[20] in support of fair financial disclosure,[21] on the collapse of Enron,[22] and the IPO process.[23]

In 1999, the Securities and Exchange Commission 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, Fool author Bill Barker wrote an article titled "SEC Levels Playing Field" on and told readers to go to the SEC's site and post a comment.[24] The regulation passed,[25] and in the July 2, 2001, edition of The Wall Street Journal, former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt is quoted saying “Two thirds of our letters came from Fools. Without them, Reg FD would not have happened.”[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About The Motley Fool". The Motley Fool.
  2. ^ Doward, Jamie (April 29, 2000). "If the jester's cap fits ..." The Guardian.
  3. ^ KORNBLUTH, JESSE (December 24, 1995). "Who Needs America Online?". The New York Times Magazine.
  4. ^ KORNBLUTH, JESSE (December 11, 1994). "What a (Motley) Fool Believes". The New Yorker.
  5. ^ "The Motley Fool Investment Guide". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Foust, Dean (July 15, 1996). "Getting The Net To Help Build Your Portfolio". Bloomberg News.
  7. ^ "Tapes & Transcripts | Betting On The Market | FRONTLINE | PBS". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  8. ^, info AT (June 24, 2015). "False Profits". Jason Zweig. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  9. ^ Graham, Benjamin (2003). The Intelligent Investor. Harper Collins. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-06-055566-1.
  10. ^ "Investor Home - Dow 10, Foolish Four and other Dow Dividend Strategies". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  11. ^ " Fool Four Moves On [Foolish Four] December 29, 2000". August 16, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-08-16. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  12. ^ "A Wake for the Motley Fools". Washington Post. February 10, 2001. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  13. ^ Flynn, Laurie J. (2002-02-04). "Compressed Data; At Motley Fool Site, Talk Will Now Carry a Price". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  14. ^ McCarthy, Ellen (2002-01-31). "Motley Fool Goes From Free to Fee". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  15. ^ Tan, Claudia (2019-10-10). "Motley Fool ceasing Singapore operations over regulatory issues". The Business Times. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  16. ^ "The Motley Fool Is 25 This Year. Here's How They Changed the Way America Invests". Washingtonian. 2019-04-01. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  17. ^ "The Ascent's Advertiser List". The Ascent. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  18. ^ "The Motley Fool rolls out a new company. Its focus? Real estate investing". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  19. ^ "Motley Fool launches real estate investing arm in Colorado". The Denver Post. 2019-09-14. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  20. ^ " Mutual Funds -- Costs -- Mr. Gardner Goes to Washington". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  21. ^ "Testimony, Sept. 13 Hearing on Auditor Independence Proposal". Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  22. ^ "Financial Collapse of Enron". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  23. ^ "Initial Public Offering Process". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  24. ^ Barker, Bill (March 21, 2000). " The SEC Needs Your Help (Special)". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  25. ^ "Regulation Fair Disclosure", Wikipedia, 2019-09-15, retrieved 2019-11-08
  26. ^ Journal, Ianthe Jeanne DuganStaff Reporter of The Wall Street. "Followers of the Motley Fool Are Suffering, and Not Gladly". WSJ. Retrieved October 1, 2018.

External linksEdit