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Motley Fool Reviews

Updated March 15, 2017
13 reviews

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Motley Fool CEO Tom Gardner
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6 Ratings

13 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Innovative, collaborative, tech driven company dedicated to their mission of helping the world invest better (in 11 reviews)

  • Great work life balance and absolute commitment to customers as well as employees (in 11 reviews)

Cons
  • Fools love it here so much that there's very little turnover, meaning there's not obvious upward mobility (in 8 reviews)

  • Can become a slog after a while, especially when you have to SEO-optimize your articles (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (15)

    "Don't be fooled by this place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    You can obtain valuable knowledge about investing while working for this company. The company tries really hard to make it a cool and hip place to work, after awhile it does get weird.

    Cons

    Management at the company is like working from within a concentration camp. Everything is very top-down and your input will be ridiculed constantly by you management. There's a lot of nepotism within the organization making politics a very big part of everyday.

    Privacy is not an option at this company. Desks are right up against each other, so that the company can pack as many people possible onto a single floor.

    Advice to Management

    I'm sorry that things didn't work out for you at AOL.


  2. Helpful (16)

    "Needs to improve overall employee satisfaction and morale"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Professional
    Former Employee - Professional
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Motley Fool full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    During the honeymoon period (first 2 months of starting the position), everything is wonderful. They bend over backwards to help you, and most of all they talk up how great Motley Fool is to work for, and how fortunate you are for them to have chosen you to be with them. It makes you feel very special to be the "chosen one".

    Cons

    After about 2 months to a year, you start to realize who you are truly working for. The managers personalities finally reveal themselves and the culture creeps up on you. Unfortunately, it wasn't positive for me. Since the culture is "play as much as you like", and the desks with no cubicle walls to separate you from hundreds of others, you begin to realize how unprofessional this place really is. It was like a huge playground, with very poor management emotional intelligence (speaking of my three direct managers). Absolutely zero privacy, and every single phone call to your spouse, doctor and friend, was overheard by 10's of people, including your strange managers, who then all asked you about what you talked about on the phone with your spouse and doctor! I was horrified each time. When I was working on certain projects and needed a few others to complete their part of the project in order for me to continue on with my portion of the project, those other people were consistently no were to be found. Where were they each time I went look for them? In the game room, or "running late" for work. Sometimes they showed up at 1pm, sometimes at 11am. No one knew. It was especially frustrating for a professional like myself. I could go on about all of the problems with this company, but there isn't enough time and space. They desperately want you to believe it's the best company to work for (and continually tell you that while you work there) but in reality, it was the one of the worst. (I found it disturbing to have been told repeatedly that I'm "...lucky to have been chosen to work at the Motley Fool," etc., etc.)
    I quickly severed my employment with the Mostly Fool when I found an established professional company to work for. I'm still working for the same established professional company to this day. "Professional" makes all the difference.

    Advice to Management

    Perhaps hire a professional firm to oversee your management staff. You need to foster a professional level atmosphere. Hire not just intellectually competent management staff, but also hire emotionally intelligent individuals too. The "play as much as you want" culture is very disconcerting when you're working there and trying to be a professional. You wouldn't need to continually try and convince employees that it's "the best place to work in the world", if it truly was the best place to work.

  3. Helpful (21)

    "Great, if you drink the Kool-Aid"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Motley Fool full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Definitely no shortage on perks, whether you are in house or a contractor. The company encourages a casual, fun-first atmosphere. Freedom to chase down your own ideas and initiatives.

    Cons

    The culture here is cult-ish, and if you show anything less than undying love for all things 'Fool,' you are met with the antithesis of what the company claims to represent. Though the Motley Fool encourages a wide range of opinions, it is not the case if you are an employee. You must bow down to the chosen darlings and blindly champion the rhetoric they consistently ooze. Egos are a problem here, and management seems to support it fully. The company's ultimate goals are to capture email addresses for the marketing department.

    Advice to Management

    Get back to focusing on the best investment advice possible, and take a close look at the editorial staff.


  4. Helpful (30)

    "Outgrown the CEO's ability to lead."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous
    Current Employee - Anonymous
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Motley Fool full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazing people to work with. If you're in an administrative, tech-support, or HR role this is a great place to work because you'll be relatively over compensated and you'll be valued.

    Cons

    If you like working toward a longterm vision or developing a career, this is not the right place for you. Expect to "reorg'd" often and without input even if you are leading a team. Most leaders spend most of their emotional energy "protecting", "blocking", or "shielding" their direct reports from the vacillating whims of a passionate and disconnected CEO and leadership team. Your 1st year here will be amazing, but disillusionment follows as you climb the ranks. Most managers joke that they won't have a team or job to return to after they take vacation --better monitor email at night and when away.

    Advice to Management

    We need a heart to heart conversation with our CEO and Board of Directors. In fact, we've out grown his ability to lead. A strong co-CEO might work, (works for Whole Foods) but that CEO would need real support from the board or that will become a revolving door too. It's telling that our CEO is in NYC while we're in Alexandria, VA... AND we fear when "Tom's in town" no matter how fun the randomness is.


  5. Helpful (20)

    "Great people, good ideas, poor execution, weak leadership."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Motley Fool full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The Fool houses some of the brightest, most talented people with whom I've ever worked. The employees truly aspire to greatness, and I've never been a part of a team that didn't collaborate effectively and from which I didn't learn tremendously.

    The company does not have clear career paths, and I consider that a major plus. If you are curious and driven, you can develop a variety of skills and sculpt nearly any role you can think of for yourself within the business.

    The benefits, mentioned in many reviews, are certainly wonderful. For smart, hard-working people (including many Fool employees), though, such benefits have become commoditized. Nearly any company I'd consider working for has comparable benefits. They are not the draw.

    Cons

    The leadership team oscillates between providing a top-down vision for the company and empowering teams to craft a strategy of their own. Either approach is valid, but oscillating between the two is dangerous, demoralizing, and ineffective. It is difficult to maintain a sense of ownership over your work when its direction -- and your role in shaping it -- frequently change.

    Foolish leaders have a strong case of "not invented here" syndrome, which manifests itself in both new product ideas (partnerships, in which we'd give up some control, are anathema) and how we allocate people. Our executive team seems to believe that, for any possible new business or project on which we embark, we already have within the company the ideal set of employees for it. Promoting from within, when the desired skill set is available, is surely preferable -- but when the desired skill set is not, top-tier companies go out and hire the best. This TMF does not.

    Advice to Management

    Apply a critical eye to the composition of the leadership team and board. Is each group structured to seek disconfirming evidence and empowered to play devil's advocate? Is each member well-suited to lead the company over the coming ten years (rather than the past ten)?


  6. Helpful (21)

    "Not as good as they might have you think"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Many intelligent and a few caring individuals work here. For some reason, this company looks good on a resume. There are opportunities to learn about business and investing, among some other things.

    Cons

    "Culture Club" acts as a secret police. Transparency is a bit of a facade. "Unlimited time off" isn't really true.

    Advice to Management

    Don't get a new CTO every year. They're not clothes; they don't go out of fashion so quickly.


  7. Helpful (23)

    "Great company on the surface, not so great for motivated people."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Motley Fool full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    On the surface - Flexible work environment, fun activities.

    Cons

    Very cult-like. Low salary, unusable unlimited vacation, and a culture which does not encourage new ideas. If you're good at what you do you, it's incredibly easy to find the same perks with a significantly better salary at a company that treats you and respects you like an individual.

    Senior management makes secretarial staff take care of personal items such as getting oil changes, registering cars, submitting school paperwork, etc.

    Almost 5 years after leaving, their product and offerings are almost completely unchanged. Don't work here if you want to accomplish anything.

    Advice to Management

    Please grow up and learn how to take care of yourselves. I understand you grew up with trust funds, but you're adults now.

  8. Helpful (37)

    "Not what it used to be"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Motley Fool full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The benefits and flexibility are great and lots are different than other companies. Alcohol flows freely and partying is viewed as a collaborative tool, so if you're a big drinker you will fit right in. Sometimes the great benefits are kind of a smoke and mirrors thing since the company tends to pay under market rates for many employees, but there are bonuses that can make up some of the difference.

    Cons

    The company was once a revolutionary, creative, and highly intellectual workplace, but most of the people who made it that way seem to have been pushed to the corner or pushed out. These days "innovation" has morphed into a “freewheeling” atmosphere that really just feels like a frat house or a high school clique. As other reviews have stated, there is a constant state of flux. But it goes way beyond making employees more innovative, and instead can be confusing to the point of paralyzing and pointless. Eventually people realize the strategy is that there is no real strategy. It’s hard to work on projects that turn out to be whims that nobody ends up caring about even though there was supposedly excitement about them from the top. Some high-profile whims become major business mistakes, a lot of them have to do with chasing short-term goals or things that have nothing to do with the core business. Too much base marketing (our customers hate it too and find it embarrassing), but that ship has sailed and the brand is in many ways tarnished beyond repair. Also, despite the “transparency” buzzword, the truth is that most people don’t know why some employees are viewed as “top performers” and promoted and others are demoted or even let go which makes people spend more time “networking” and being political with each other than being productive. Definitions of success and failure seem like who’s popular or now and has infused the office with a toxic "every man for himself" atmosphere. Speaking of men, it’s also not an easy place for females to succeed, period. There’s also a massive HR team that despite (hopefully) good intentions isn’t really effective, and other employees seem to be judged much more harshly about success or failure than that team is. There are lots of miserable people at the company right now, so things are going down a bad road.

    Advice to Management

    Be more open to criticism... and actually listening/acting on it. (People really ARE afraid to criticize or push back against bad ideas and are afraid to say it.) Slow down and think things through. Think about your historical purpose, not just what makes money immediately. Try to have a strategy that makes sense and not throw a bunch of crazy spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks while ignoring quality and legitimate opportunities that actually make sense. Be careful of a culture that might be devolving into one that only values "fun" and becomes separate from the importance of the actual business.


  9. Helpful (12)

    "Things have changed, and not for the better"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Writer in Washington, DC
    Current Freelancer - Freelance Writer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Motley Fool (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Once upon a time, The Motley Fool was a fun place to work. We were small, collegial, and everyone knew everyone else, both within the Alexandria home base and outside of it. Lines of communication were short, and open. Writers focused on writing, collaborating with editors, but free to experiment, to range widely across subject areas, and to write as "investors writing for investors." Our focus was on educating, amusing, and enriching our fellow investors... and pulling back the curtain on Wall Street.

    Cons

    This has all changed. The Fool today is a marketing organization, run by marketers, and focused on selling product. Writing is stiff, formulaic, and run entirely by self-styled "sector heads" (editors who cannot edit their way out of a paper bag) and marketers. The editors spend their time fighting turf wars and putting writers in boxes. The marketers glibly inform writers that our purpose is "to sell newsletters." They're even instituted a blanket ban on writing about certain companies, with whom the Fool has distribution relationships. That would have been anathema to Ye Olde Fool. The fun is gone. The Fool's purpose for existing is mostly gone, too. It has become TheStreet.com in a funny hat -- and no one remembers what the funny hat was for in the first place.

    Advice to Management

    Does that TheStreet.com reference sting a bit? It should. The company you created is being ruined by the folks you entrusted to run it. Get your heads back in the game, and get a handle on things before it's too late.


  10. Helpful (29)

    "Investment Team Lacks Diversity, Team Leads Reluctant to Hear New Ideas"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Investment Analyst in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Investment Analyst in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Motley Fool full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Compared to traditional finance companies, the Fool is a low key place to work. No need to dress up or wear a tie. Everyone, even the CIO, has a cubby and is seated in pods of four. Great to bounce around ideas and hear what's happening in other parts of the floor. There are usually weekly meetings and assignments are distributed on a timely basis.

    Most reviews here mention benefits, like organized trips and concerts, but most people on the investment team tends to be less social.

    Cons

    I came to the Fool under the impression that it runs like a startup, where new ideas are accepted and everyone is encouraged to participate. In reality, the Fool runs like a big company, no different than your typical Wall Street company. It's very hierarchical and you don't get much say especially if you are new.

    To stay afloat, you need to put your head down and do what your manager tells you to do. Be prepared to have managers way younger than you. They may not know what they talking about, investment-wise, but they'll have seniority over you, because they've been at the Fool longer.

    The investment team lacks diversity -- there are very few women and employees of color. Many of its new hires tends to be mainstream rejects. In other words, if you don't fit the traditional mold (college + MBA + work experience), the Fool will likely hire you.

    Everything at the Fool is about doing it the "Fool-ish" way and God forbid you come in to the company with previous experience, especially Wall Street experience, you'll be shunned and ostracized. The Fool prides itself as being anti-Wall Street, so definitely don't flaunt your past experiences or expertise. No matter your background, when you enter the Fool, you start from ground zero and must work your way up. Unfortunately, it's very hard, because performance isn't based on merit, but on how effective you are at sucking up to the right people.

    If you are new at the company, definitely don't speak up and voice your ideas, unless you want a target on your back. There is a strong sense of unspoken rule that seniority (or length of time at the Fool) dictates whether you make a good investor.

    Management will say that the company turnover rate is low, but the reality is they just don't count many of the folks who left within a year. For an investment analyst, the pay is very low especially compared to the market average. It's a comfortable job with great hours, but other than that, I wouldn't consider this a great investment company.

    Advice to Management

    Please make performance based on merit and not on seniority. Just because someone has worked at the Fool longer doesn't mean he/she is a better investor!


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