The Motley Fool

The Motley Fool is a private financial and investing advice company based in Alexandria, Virginia. 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. Its main business is online subscription services with investing recommendations, stock research, and analysis. The company employs over 300 people worldwide.[1]

Motley Fool
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Financial advisory services
FoundedJuly 1993; 27 years ago (1993-07)
Area servedUnited States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong
OwnerThe Motley Fool, LLC
Founder(s)David Gardner
Tom Gardner
Erik Rydholm

Company nameEdit

The name “Motley Fool” is taken from Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It. It references the one character — the court jester — who could speak the truth to the Duke without having his head lopped off.[2][3]


Early yearsEdit

In 1994, The Motley Fool published a series of messages online promoting a nonexistent sewage-disposal company.[4] The messages, which were an April Fool's joke designed to teach a lesson about penny stock investing, garnered widespread attention, including an article in The Wall Street Journal.[5] In August of that year, the Gardners parlayed their one-year-old investment newsletter into a content partnership with America Online (AOL).[6] In December, they were profiled in the "Talk of the Town" section of the New Yorker.[7]

In 1996, David and Tom Gardner published The Motley Fool Investment Guide, which ranked on bestseller lists for both The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek.[8] The book was controversial; Bloomberg wrote about The Motley Fool's "Fanatical following,"[9] while a PBS Frontline episode described the company as made up of "20-somethings" giving "so-called advice."[10]

In 1997, the Motley Fool's online presence moved from AOL to its own domain,, where it continued to provide investing advice under an advertising-based revenue model.[11]

"Foolish Four" and dot-com bustEdit

In 1999, the Motley Fool was criticized by Jason Zweig for its "Foolish Four" investment theory.[12] This idea had been marketed as a way to "crush mutual funds [in] only 15 minutes a year" by using a mathematical formula to find stocks predicted to grow much more than average.[13][14] 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."[15][better source needed]

During the dot-com bubble and market collapse of 2001, the company lost 80% of its staff in three rounds of layoffs.[16] It also closed its operations in Germany and Japan, which have since been reestablished.[citation needed]


In April 2002, The Motley Fool shifted to a subscription-based business model with the launch of its first subscription service for investment advice.[17][18] The company launched their Stock Advisor program which is still in service today. The Stock Advisor program offers monthly stock picks and premium investment education to subscribers. [19][1]

The company also established free and subscription-based businesses in several countries. As of 2019, The Motley Fool has operations in the United Kingdom[20], Australia[21], Canada[22], Germany[23], and Japan.[24] In October 2019, the company announced that it was shutting down operations in Singapore.[25]. A year later, in October of 2020, the company announced that it was also shutting down operations in Hong Kong.[26]

In August 2018, the company launched a personal-finance sub-brand called The Ascent[27] to provide personal finance product reviews and free educational resources.

In September 2019, the Motley Fool launched two more sub-brands. Millionacres provides subscription-based real estate investing advice and real estate resources.[28][29]

Legislative effortsEdit

Representatives of The Motley Fool have testified before Congress against mutual fund fees,[30] in support of fair financial disclosure,[31] on the collapse of Enron,[32] and the IPO process.[33]

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, Motley Fool author Bill Barker wrote an article telling readers to post comments on the SEC's website.[34] The regulation passed,[35] 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.”[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Motley Fool's Competitors, Revenue, Number of Employees, Funding and Acquisitions". Owler. 1 January 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-02-03. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  2. ^ "The Motley Fool | Exploratory Shakespeare". Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  3. ^ O'Malley, Michael (2019-12-12). "What the "Best Companies to Work For" Do Differently". Harvard Business Review. ISSN 0017-8012. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  4. ^ Gomes, Lee (1994-05-24). "On-line Ripoffs". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2020-01-26.
  5. ^ Doward, Jamie (April 29, 2000). "If the jester's cap fits ..." The Guardian.
  6. ^ KORNBLUTH, JESSE (December 24, 1995). "Who Needs America Online?". The New York Times Magazine.
  7. ^ KORNBLUTH, JESSE (December 11, 1994). "What a (Motley) Fool Believes". The New Yorker.
  8. ^ "The Motley Fool Investment Guide". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  9. ^ Foust, Dean (July 15, 1996). "Getting The Net To Help Build Your Portfolio". Bloomberg News.
  10. ^ "Tapes & Transcripts | Betting On The Market | FRONTLINE | PBS". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  11. ^ Journal, Ianthe Jeanne DuganStaff Reporter of The Wall Street (2001-07-02). "Followers of the Motley Fool Are Suffering, and Not Gladly". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  12. ^, info AT (June 24, 2015). "False Profits". Jason Zweig. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  13. ^ Graham, Benjamin (2003). The Intelligent Investor (PDF). Harper Collins. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-06-055566-1.
  14. ^ "Investor Home - Dow 10, Foolish Four and other Dow Dividend Strategies". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  15. ^ " Fool Four Moves On [Foolish Four] December 29, 2000". August 16, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-08-16. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  16. ^ "A Wake for the Motley Fools". Washington Post. February 10, 2001. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ McCarthy, Ellen (2002-01-31). "Motley Fool Goes From Free to Fee". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  19. ^ "Motley Fool Stock Advisor Review". Day Trade Review. Day Trade Review. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  20. ^ "The Motley Fool UK". Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  21. ^ "The Motley Fool Australia". Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  22. ^ "The Motley Fool Canada". Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  23. ^ "The Motley Fool Germany". Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  24. ^ "The Motley Fool Japan". Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  25. ^ Tan, Claudia (2019-10-10). "Motley Fool ceasing Singapore operations over regulatory issues". The Business Times. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  26. ^ "Motley Fool to close Hong Kong business due to political uncertainty". Reuters. Retrieved 2020-10-31.
  27. ^ "The Motley Fool Is 25 This Year. Here's How They Changed the Way America Invests". Washingtonian. 2019-04-01. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  28. ^ "The Motley Fool rolls out a new company. Its focus? Real estate investing". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  29. ^ "Motley Fool launches real estate investing arm in Colorado". The Denver Post. 2019-09-14. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  30. ^ " Mutual Funds -- Costs -- Mr. Gardner Goes to Washington". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  31. ^ "Testimony, Sept. 13 Hearing on Auditor Independence Proposal". Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  32. ^ "Financial Collapse of Enron". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  33. ^ "Initial Public Offering Process". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  34. ^ Barker, Bill (March 21, 2000). " The SEC Needs Your Help (Special)". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  35. ^ "Regulation Fair Disclosure", Wikipedia, 2019-09-15, retrieved 2019-11-08
  36. ^ 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

  Media related to The Motley Fool at Wikimedia Commons