Why Hasnt the Motley Fool Gone Public?

By Markets Fool.com

It's mailbag time again on theRule Breaker Investingpodcast, and there are plenty of great questions forMotley Fool co-founder David Gardner. In this segment, a listener wants to know the Motley Fool's plans for becoming a public company.

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A transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on July. 27, 2016.

David Gardner:OK now for a horse of a completely different color, the next one up is Jerry Lynch. Jerry, you wrote: "Dear Dave, would you please describe The Motley Fool's cost/benefit analysis regarding the decision, up to this time, not to take your organization into the IPO marketplace." When I first read that from Jerry, I was wondering if he was saying we should be covering IPOs more. Like we're not in the IPO marketplace for a newsletter covering IPOs. Nope. Jerry, as it turns out, as he goes on, is wondering why we don't go public as a company at The Motley Fool.

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"When you describe keeping score of all The Motley Fool projects, I always ask myself," Jerry writes, "why won't Dave and Tom make that ultimate next step to play in the big league of the stock market? My question is motivated by my sense that The Motley Fool is at an exciting point in their evolution where your media empire," -- that's very flattering for you to say and to use that phrase -- "can jump to an all-new level of international presence. Yet I'm concerned this next rule-breaking recreation cannot happen without a major infusion of public financing." He goes on a little bit from there. "Thank you for your work. Jerry Lynch."

Jerry, thanks for the question. I will speak to this briefly, but it's a fun question. We are in our 23rd year of being a private company. We've been private from the get-go. We've taken in a lot of venture capital over the years, especially in the first 10 years of our company, and then in the succeeding 10 years, we spent a lot of time paying back out our venture capitalists in order to remain a private company. We love being a private company. We also are really glad that there are public companies -- otherwise, we wouldn't have much of a stock market for you and me to be invested in, and find great companies.

I would love for The Motley Fool, one day, not necessarily to be a public company or not, but specifically to be a great company. I think we still have a lot of work to do in that regard, but that's what Tom and I are building together, and what we've been building with the help of, now, about 350 others who are full-time employees at The Motley Fool.

We would be a different entity if we were public. I don't think we would be quite as fun a place to work. It would be little bit more intense around here. We're not complacent, at all, but I think there's some really nice benefits to being a private company. One benefit we don't have is regular access to capital, which is what you gain when you become a public company. First of all, you can float some stock, and take in some money right there, but you could also do secondary offerings and other things. You also increase your visibility a lot.

Jerry, you asked specifically in regards to our international growth opportunity. You're right. If we received a substantial infusion of capital, we could definitely spread Foolishness faster, harder, deeper, and broader than we are today. As it is -- as you're hearing this podcast -- I pre-taped this about a week ahead of time because I'm out visiting Motley Fool Singapore and Motley Fool Australia. I think I'm having a really good time as you hear this.

It's certainly a little bit of entrepreneurial pride for me to think that The Motley Fool is now in those countries. In Canada. In the U.K., where we've been for a long time. Germany, recently. So we're going to continue expanding, even with the little bit of capital that we have. It does keep you more focused when you have less capital, and you generally have to be more disciplined, so I think that there can be strengths to that, as well. Anyway, don't expect ticker symbol (FOOL) to show up anytime soon. At the same time, I don't expect anybody else is ever going to take that ticker symbol, but we'll have to see.

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