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The Motley Fool is celebrating 15 Years of Foolishness. Grab your party hats and relive a decade and a half of education, amusement, and enrichment.
For nearly as long as The Motley Fool has been in existence, the company has celebrated April Fool's Day by trying to fool the world -- just for a day. Our first prank happened in 1994, when we hyped a fictional penny stock on Prodigy discussion boards. "Zeigletics" was making "linked sewage-disposal systems for the Central African nation of Chad," and later introduced portable toilets.
From there, we were able to get many investors excitedly looking to buy shares on the Halifax Stock Exchange (which doesn't exist), when we hyped, "in Africa the name Zeigletics is virtually synonymous with toilets. The company recently sponsored the Sudanese equivalent of the Boston Marathon, where hundreds of fans were waving plungers at the finish line!!!"
And thus, the tradition has continued through the years. Here's a recap of our past pranks:
1998: We confessed that we had made a huge mistake and now had to reverse our entire investment philosophy. We explained that due to an error committed by an intern who was since fired, we'd been incorrectly saying for years that 91% of managed mutual funds failed to beat the market, when in fact they've outperformed it. Oops! (As usual, we followed up the next day with a lesson -- that most managed funds really do lose out to simple index funds.)
1999: We announced that we were bringing public a company called eMeringue, which sells meringue pie tops online (just the meringue, not the pies).
2000: We announced that Shakespeare's portfolio had just been discovered, and that his original investments, worth the equivalent of 60 cents, were now worth some $18.7 billion. His holdings included "Horse, Inc.," "Hut Depot," and "Plague-B-Gone."
2001: We celebrated the discovery by scientists at the Human Genome Project of an "investor gene." As we explained: "If you had the gene, you could beat the market. If you didn't have it, you would no longer have to try. You could settle for an index fund and save yourself aggravation and money. We offered a simple test to determine whether you had the gene. We also offered, for a reasonable fee, to upgrade your genetic makeup and insert the gene."
2002: We launched Love.Fool.com, our Foolish matchmaking service. We based this on a belief that the foundation of a healthy relationship is financial compatibility, which is why we match people based on financial criteria, as opposed to hobbies or interests.
2003: We introduced a new penny stock newsletter, called The Motley Fool's Penny Pal.
2004: Transforming the look of our main page, we offered a bunch of not-so-legitimate stories, such as Warren Buffett buying Krispy Kreme, AMEX going metric, and credit cards for children.
2005: We dedicated ourselves to running state lotteries out of business with the introduction of... FOOLottery!®, presenting readers with a chance to win tens of millions of dollars over the next day and offering their first ticket free: "Bigger payouts, Better odds, Faster rewards, No money down, And your satisfaction guaranteed."
2006: We announced a class action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of the former executive leaders of Enron. Two days later, we revealed what we really thought about Enron and its management.
2007: We revealed plans to spend $3.4 million for a national television, print, and radio campaign promoting the bill we drafted: The CEO Bill of Rights Act of 2007. (One element of it: "a minimum wage constituting total compensation of no less than 800 times that of the average worker.")
And our most recent Foolish escapade:
2008: We announced that for the next six months, The Motley Fool would not be covering the stock market or writing investment-related content of any kind. We offered, instead, information on spatulas, work-out tips, and good books to read. (The lesson here was that as Warren Buffett has noted, we can do well by not focusing on the markets so much.)
We look forward to bring you another 15 years of Foolishness (and then some!), with more gags, pranks, and practical jokes to come!