The Week in Review -- March 19, 1999

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  3/12 Close 3/19 Close Change %Change
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In Praise of Folly
by Jerry Thomas (

"What could be more fitting than that Folly should pat herself on the back and blow her own horn?"

--Erasmus (1466-1536)

Greetings, Fools.

We won two Webby Awards this week. That's a very big deal. What the Oscars are to film, what the Emmys are to television, the Webbys are to the Internet, and The Motley Fool swept the Best Finance Site awards in two categories. The first was presented by a panel of over 200 judges including David Bowie and Francis Ford Coppola. The second is a "People's Voice" award selected by over 100,000 voters at the Webby Award website. That's a combination of critical and popular acclaim that is simply thrilling. Since you're not likely to hear about our good fortune in the Wise media, I thought, in the spirit of Erasmus, I should mention it here. A Fool should praise himself, Erasmus wrote some 500 years ago, because it's not likely that Wisdom will.

That word -- "Best" -- feels really good, though.

How shall I proceed? Again, the most likely model is probably Erasmus himself. "The method I like best of all is simply to blurt out whatever comes into my head." Good enough for me. I'll begin by declaring that whatever success we have we owe in no small part to our staff of writers, who turn out such terrific material day after day, week after week. Take Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff), who is constantly embarrassed in these Notes by my routinely effusive praise. He opened Monday's Rule Breaker Portfolio report with the following paragraph:

"About one-third of Americans use e-mail on a regular basis, and all of them are mailing the same jokes back and forth to one another. Early in this century we had WWI; near the middle, we suffered WWII. To end it, we have WWW."

And he got mental high-fives from me all around. Don't be shy about it, Jeff. That's just good stuff. No wonder we win awards.

Of course, the writers are only one facet of this gem. There are dozens of busy Fools working behind the scenes that you never see: techies, administrative workers, sales people, Fool Marters, and on and on. It really is a remarkable crew of people. But (Warning! Schmaltz Alert!) the real credit, I think, goes to the people -- our customers -- who use our resources online every hour and every day.

I can sum up in one line the reason for our success. I think it comes down to this: Like no other financial service in the history of investing, our interests are your interests. That's the whole secret right there. Our incentives are your incentives. We win when you win. When you know more, we do better. If you visit this space regularly, you know that I am in constant astonishment of the people in our Community who do so much to build up our website because they know that their contributions are rewarded hundreds of times over by the thousands of other Fools who are building our Community along side them.

I had the privilege of working on a new feature this week: it's our Hot Topics page, which you might liken to an hors d'oeuvre tray of tasty conversations taking place on our message boards. Click into those discussions and you'll find that our customers are doing more to build our website than our small staff ever could. That's powerful, and it is gratifying to be part of that effort.

The Motley Fool demystifies. While the rest of the financial world wants to keep you confused, we want to advance your awareness. This week it was Yi-Hsin Chang (TMF Puck) carrying the banner with her series on The ABCs of IPOs. The traditional financial media might have you thinking that Initial Public Offerings are some sort of combination of the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes and your state lottery. Yi-Hsin explains in detail why IPOs exist and how they work.

Rick Munarriz (TMF Edible) is there this week, too, with his bio of Apple's Steve Jobs and his Daily Trouble on Brightpoint Inc. (Nasdaq: CELL). And the members of our Community were stepping forward as well, perhaps most notably in Friday's Fribble by Lydia Vorsteveld, which reminds us all how important it is to plan for the long term.

Also, there's our HUGE, brand-new All About IRAs feature, which brings together the work of more Fool staff members than I have space to mention. This is a comprehensive resource, and especially timely with April 15th approaching very quickly now. Did you know there are ten different types of IRAs? Do you know of any other place -- online or off -- where you can have them all explained to you in plain English?

Every day the material just piles up here. The website is more enriched, and more enriching, every time something new is posted. It's a cumulative enterprise, and one that works for all of us. If we win awards, it's because we know this, and appreciate it, even as we appreciate those who help contribute to it.

Speaking of awards, you might want to check out our Oscar Wildness game. Just answer some fun questions at our website, including your predictions of who will carry home this year's top Academy Awards, and you can win valuable prizes chosen just for you. The deadline for entry is Sunday, March 21, at 6 p.m. EST.

Until next week,
Fool on!


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