Founded in 1993, the original Fool Global Headquarters was a 8’x12’ shed in David Gardner’s backyard at 630 South Pitt Street in Alexandria, Virginia. The previous tenants of the shed were a family of alley cats, so it was from these humble and pungent beginnings that Tom and David Gardner, along with Tom’s college friend Erik Rydholm, set out to share their love of investing. As they wrote in their mission statement: “We are Fools, and we’re writing for fools, and we’re doing as motley a job of it as we can.” They cobbled together a mailing list including friends, family members, and a cousin’s wedding invitation list. All told, 1,000 copies of this first newsletter were put in the mail with the humble request to subscribe – and 37 people did. The newsletter lived on for a year, eventually serving more than 300 readers, each paying $48 for the subscription.
Today, The Motley Fool Holdings, Inc., is a financial services company dedicated to making the world smarter, happier, and richer, employing over 360 Fools. The Fool reaches millions of people around the globe everyday through its innovative investing solutions, podcasts, books, newspaper column, and media appearances. The Motley Fool Holdings, Inc.’s operating companies include The Motley Fool, LLC, and its international subsidiaries, which provide free and premium investing advice and commentary; Motley Fool Asset Management, LLC, which advises the Motley Fool family of mutual funds and ETFs; Motley Fool Wealth Management, LLC, which provides personal investment advice and managed accounts to its clients; and Motley Fool Ventures, a member-based, venture capital fund focused on early-stage private companies.
To Make the World Smarter, Happier, and Richer
“Businesses that recognize they have a higher purpose beyond just the bottom line — and state that purpose to the world and make it real for their employees — these are some of the best companies of our time. And it just so happens these are some of the best stocks of our time.” -David Gardner
In 1998, Tom and David took aim at Starbucks for excluding individual investors from their quarterly conference calls. As the story goes, a Starbucks executive defended the practice saying individual investors weren’t sophisticated enough to understand their business. Ahhh yes, the complex business of selling…coffee. While in Seattle for a radio conference, Tom and David recorded the radio show live in front of an audience, railing on Starbucks’ policy. They closed the show by giving out Starbucks’ investor relations phone number, encouraging listeners to call and voice their outrage. The company eventually relented. CEO Howard Schultz later told Tom and David that the pressure from The Motley Fool community was one of the main reasons they started letting in individual investors.
Over the years, The Motley Fool has made many trips to Capitol Hill. We have testified against mutual fund fees, in support of fair financial disclosure, on the collapse of Enron, and the IPO process. In a 2001 Wall Street Journal article, the Fool was described “as close to being an effective investor advocate as any organization in America.”
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