A View From TheStreet

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By TMFCheeze
July 2, 2001

Posts selected for this feature rarely stand alone. They are usually a part of an ongoing thread, and are out of context when presented here. The material should be read in that light. How are these posts selected? Click here to find out and nominate a post yourself!

I don't know if you've been following the voting in the Webby Awards. The Motley Fool is nominated for Best Financial Website along with CBS MarketWatch,, PayPal, and Yahoo! Finance. If you haven't yet, you can vote for your favorite site (guess which) right here.

The Webby site has some pages where you can post your own reviews of these sites, and TMF's page is here.

Among the posts there, both raves and pans, you will find the following message, which went up only this morning:

Are you Kidding?
Thomas Koletas post 28 of 29
6-29-2001, 06:06

The Motley Fool never made money for anyone. It is a site for rubes who know nothing about their own finances. I bet if you trace all the e-mail addresses of people who voted for the Fool, you wil see they are all AOL.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find that post especially instructive. Especially given the post that follows it, which reveals Mr. Koletas as the Director of East Coast Advertising Sales for a website that I actually have quite a bit of affection for: You'll find his name listed on their online media kit.

I don't wish to respond to the invective of Mr. Koletas in his disdain of The Motley Fool. I merely find in it a good occasion to point out exactly why The Motley Fool is so successful, and why we appeal to the great masses of investors in ways that the Wall Street establishment does not.

It is typical of "The Street" -- and here I am not speaking of the website that has adopted that name, but the institution that has ruled our financial world for generations -- to dismiss common people as "rubes" and as people who "know nothing." That attitude, that fundamental disrespect for the people who ultimately pay their salaries, is a founding characteristic of the Wall Street establishment. It is typical of Wall Street to dismiss common people as too stupid to manage their own finances, to treat them in such a way that divorces those people from their own interest, and to sell them mediocrity and underperformance at a premium. Yet hidden within that disdain is the flaw that is upending Wall Street, and exactly the factor that has permitted The Motley Fool to assume such a prominent role in remaking the world of personal finance today.

Our message begins with a respect for the individual, and a respect for the proposition that the best person to manage your own money is you. While Mr. Koletas sees fit to describe you as unfit to manage your own money, we find opportunity in offering you the tools and resources to learn how to take on this sometimes daunting task with greater confidence and enthusiasm. I don't know how many of you happen to be AOL users -- it is odd to consider such a broad segment of the marketplace as unworthy of commercial engagement -- but if people are using AOL because they find it easier, I consider that a sign of intelligence. And if they are using The Motley Fool to educate themselves about financial matters in an environment where they are valued and respected, that, too, is a sign of intelligent behavior, and, in fact, is a fulfillment of the promise of the Internet.

If The Motley Fool represents the upending of the old Wall Street culture, it is no surprise that that establishment should feel threatened by us. We at TMF have a faith in the people beyond The Street -- and again, I mean the institution, not the website. I suppose that, as their competitor, I should be pleased to see, as of 6:06 o'clock this morning, still so fundamentally misconceiving the way the world is turning. But my attitude is more charitable than that. The old days of "Trust Us -- We're The Experts" is fast fading, and the people who still reside in the glass towers on Wall Street are smart enough to understand that. When the old guard on Wall Street finally learns that the ground beneath them is shifting, and at last begins to serve people rather than insulting them, we'll find the true fulfillment of both the Internet and our institutions of commerce.