OLD Media Moves

The Motley Fool is a happening place

February 10, 2007

I spent Friday at the headquarters of The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., and came away impressed with what I heard and what I saw.

I was in the room when company co-founder Tom Gardner spoke for about 30 minutes to a group of about 15 writers for its web site. Gardner told them about recent conversations with the CEOs of Walt Disney Co. and handbag maker Coach and how both closely read what is written about them by Fool journalists. Gardner also told them about some upcoming changes at the company, including some new ventures that it’s exploring to expand the business.

Motley FoolGardner also spoke about the company’s writers getting more voices into their stories, such as CEOs, CFOs and analysts. That’s something I talked to them about as well. Most of the copy on the web site doesn’t quote outsiders, but I get the feeling that’s going to change soon.

Tom also spoke about the competition, which he sees as Yahoo! Finance, Morningstar and Forbes.com, among others. Tom and his brother David write a column that is syndicated in more than 200 newspaper business sections in 43 states.

Although the editorial staff is primarily focused on writing for investors, they do a lot of research and work on their copy, I discovered. What I liked best was that they have fun with what they’re writing. They want personal finance reporting to be entertaining as well as informative.

I was also impressed by the knowledge base of their writers. One guy used to work in private equity and had been an investment banker. Another guy had spent some time doing corporate PR for companies such as Sun Micro. Another had run the journalism program at the University of Tennessee.

Lastly, every financial journalist should aspire to work at the Fool. They have a Game Room at headquarters that included a pool table, a ping pong table, some arcade video games and a basketball Pop-A-Shot, in addition to a huge, flat-panel TV. I was told that there would be a poker game starting in there later in the day, and I noticed a solitary Bud Light in the office refrigerator.

My prized possession from my day at the Fool, however, was a business card from an employee. His title on the card? “Office Shaman.”

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