Just about 100 years after Coca-Cola, Dell
Low-fare airline JetBlue
The Fool online turns 11
Why am I mulling over the history of various corporations and their accomplishments in their first 11 years? Because your friend The Motley Fool is celebrating an anniversary this week -- our online service has just marked its 11th year. (Not bad for a company that traces its history back to pudding.) I'm proud to have been working for the Fool for nearly all of those years, and when I step back and survey all that we've done, I'm impressed. Perhaps you will be, too. Permit me to tell you a bit about our little company. Here are some of our notable achievements:
- We've been the topic of an answer-and-question on "Jeopardy!" -- twice. (First in 1996, then in 2005.)
- We've been promoting index funds for years, long before it became fashionable to do so.
- For pretty much our entire life as a company, we've been advocates for the small individual investor.
- Our co-founders, David and Tom Gardner, have addressed Congress on several occasions. (Read about Tom's appearance and David's, too.)
- Well before Wall Street's recent wave of corporate scandals crested, we were, with your help, urging the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to pass Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure). It did pass, with then-chairman Arthur Levitt giving us Fools much credit.
- We've offered many giggles on the holiday that we claim as our own: April Fool's Day. In my opinion, our best gag was our 1999 announcement that we were bringing public a remarkable company called eMeringue, which specialized in selling meringue pie tops (just the meringue, not the pies) online. It featured many pages of rib-tickling details and photos, including an extensive company website at www.emeringue.com. At least one newspaper fell for the joke, listing eMeringue as a recommended food purveyor.
- We helped pioneer online discussion boards, hosting our own since the mid-1990s. Our Fool Community sports thousands of boards on which thousands of Fools converse. You really owe it to yourself to try out our boards; even if you don't want to go through our thoroughly painless signup process, you can visit the boards for free as a guest for 30 days. Many people routinely find great stocks, great advice and great friends on them. Read about some of our Fool Community's greatest moments and see if you're not impressed.
- We've been running a nationally syndicated newspaper feature since 1997, now carried by some 200 papers in nearly every state, reaching roughly 20 million readers. Here's a sample of its content -- ask your local paper's business editor to consider picking it up, if you'd like.
- We've been broadcasting The Motley Fool Radio Show since 1998, beginning on commercial airwaves and eventually moving to a new home with National Public Radio.
- We've published a small shelf's worth of books, several of which have appeared on major best-seller lists. Read about Fool books.
- We've been able to secure some good deals for our loyal readers (which admittedly benefit us, too, though we did work hard to design win-win products): an affordable personalized financial planning service, a suite of credit cards with attractive terms, discounts on credit reports, mortgage quotes, a comparison of some good brokerages, and special interest rates on short-term savings such as CDs.
- In addition to helping you make money, we also try to raise money every year for some astonishingly wonderful organizations. Through our annual "Foolanthropy" drive, we've raised a total of more than $2 million for charity, which has done an awful lot of good in the world.
Full circle with newsletters
To me, one of the most interesting and amusing aspects of our history is how we've come full circle. We trace our roots back to 1993, when David and Tom Gardner launched a print newsletter. It didn't fare too well in its first months, but that quickly became a moot issue, as the brothers soon found success in another channel -- online. We debuted on AOL in August of 1994.
Over the years, we've offered many different publications, both online and off. But the products we're most proud of right now are our investing newsletters. They arrive in many thousands of subscribers' mailboxes each month in print format, and each also sports a rich dedicated online nook. If you try any of them (and I urge you to do so, since we offer free trials), I bet you'll be impressed with their performance. A bunch have roughly doubled the market's average return. I reviewed their performance a few months ago -- keep an eye out for an updated look at them coming soon.
What are your highlights?
If you've hung around Fooldom for any significant length of time, you probably have some favorite memories. Share them on our discussion boards, or just pop in to see what others are saying.
Finally, in case you don't hear it enough from us, thank you for spending time with us and for letting us serve you the way we do best -- offering sound financial guidance in plain English, ideally with a bunch of chuckles thrown in along the way.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian's favorite discussion boards include Book Club, The Eclectic Library and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of Coca-Cola, just in case you thought we'd forgotten about the Fool's disclosure policy. For more about Selena, viewher bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money GuideandThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.