What to Make of The Upgrade

Received an email notification a couple of weeks back (or so) that stated The Fool was about to roll out massive changes to…The Fool; and, that they were extending my various subscriptions for ‘free’ for a couple of months so I could evaluate the changes. Well…that was very Foolishly nice of them.

Today - I received an email that basically - as my simple mind understands it; states that all the stuff I already subscribe to is being rolled into something called Fool Portfolios. And I think the email stated that my cost was $2499 albeit something other was included about something free. And -Then and Thereafter - my upgrade would renew at the normal rate of whatever it is at the time - which; seems fair enough I suppose. Forgot some of this and I am way too lazy to go back and re-read the email. Included was a hefty and promising list of new benefits to the upcoming new Fool system including a mid teen number of expired portfolio stuff thats been hidden from view that I can take a peek or two at; although, since investing is a forward looking strategy, (From my viewpoint along with the whole past results thingy) I am not sure why I would want to take a look at any Fool Ghosts of Portfolios Past. Maybe I am just myopically short sighted these days: been called worse.

So what to think about all this? In my exceptionally humble and amateurish opinion the Fool began losing a step or two when they decided to create a special portfolio strategy for every conceivable stock fetish known to mankind - which it seems, devolved into a sort of a somewhat complicated investing schematic resembling some aspiring artist’s latest guess ‘what this is’ canvas of colors and shapes/forms and/or similar to the ever changing maze Harry Potter navigated in one of the movies… and just as puzzling and confusing:

Take the old system for example where you basically had Rule Breakers and Stock Advisor. Pretty simple. New suggestions were outlined and there was a simple easy to understand and read mostly comprehensive list of all the previous stock picks along with each stocks performance since being added. A Very - Very simple system for a bread and potatoes investor like myself. Then - over time, there came a smattering of additional services like Hidden Gems and a few others. Some faded over time and some failed under their own weight. And then… out of someone’s brainstorm - a full fledged deluge of new subscription services starting arriving in a sort of place-your-bets staccato type rhythm:

Superstars
Small Cap Superstars
Superstars For People who Like Chicken
Superstars For People who Like Chicken and Drink Coke
Superstars For People who Like Chicken, Drink Code and Eat Apple Pie
Superstars For People who Don’t Like Chicken but Drink Coke and Eat
Apple Pie.

Every single stock investing niche you can think of was parlayed into a subscription service which then was further morphed into multitudes of subscription categories. I seem to remember this one:

Home Run Stocks
Home Run Stocks with Bases Loaded
Home Run Stocks with Two Out/No One On
Back-To-Back Home Run Stocks.
Epic Home Run Stocks
Really Epic Home Run Stocks.
Really, Really Epic Home Run Stocks.

Note One: Lest I seem to be too awfully hard here - I am an oldish, occasionally tuned-in, but always on the fair side, entirely grumpy codger who disdains change for changes sake while being fixed in place with a dedicated
penchant for liking things just the way they are: in other words, If it ain’t broke - don’t fix it. And more to the point - I think it’s fair to say that the Fools have been hard at work fixing things for quite some time now.

The Fool lost another step - all in my mind, when one of the brothers retired from running Rule Breakers; which, hasn’t seemed to be breaking many rules lately much less thinking outside the box (or boxes) as it were. Perhaps rather mundane now. Maybe.

Note Two: Please do not confuse my commentary here as something belittling the good folks who now populate and run The Fool. Regardless of whatever changes have occurred The Fool is still light years ahead of any other investing service for us little guys and gals: It just seems a little more complicated now and harder to get your mind around it all. So there’s that.

And then - someone, somewhere - in The Great Fool Hierarchy decided that having all those dang free discussion boards across a wide, wide milieu of various and sundry topics and populated with dedicated long time Fools
was simply unprofitable and not worth having: OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! And…just like that, years and years of posts, friendships, and general information went: POOF!.

If you are keeping score that represented another Fool step lost.

So in the end - I have yet another decision to make: get inline with the new Fool changes even though I am still not all that up-to-speed on the current Fool changes nor even much interested in future Fool changes. Or… simply retire after 40 years of highly Fool specific/oriented investing and call it a day. Odds are currently 55/45 on staying, paying whatever they want while being swept along by the rip tides of the general Fool current. After all - It’s hard to break a 20 year old habit (or something close to that); and besides, in reality, its the community collective of like minded investors combined with the unlike minded investors that still makes The Fool great.

I think I have a couple of months or so to decide to pony up more funds and since I am sure everyone else received the same alert and email I would be interested in the opinions of others if you might be so inclined.

All The Best,
BDH Investing

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Hi Champ,

I did not receive a similar email from MF as you did. Perhaps because I have not owned a MF subscription for a few years due to the large expansion of the different subscription services.

I first bought SA and Rule Breakers subscriptions which helped me transition from Index funds to see if I could “beat the market.” Due to the bull market, I did well and bought many other MF subsciptions because why not. I once owned over 80 MF recommendations. Unfortunately, once the bear showed its teeth, I had no idea what to do. I have lurked on your board for many years and enjoyed your wisdom and humor. I read Saul’s knowledge base many times and realized that I needed a concentrated portfolio. Of course, I got hammered in 2022 but I felt like if I could get through Saul’s worst year statistically and keep improving as an investor, this investing style might just be for me. I have recovered nicely and am excited about the future.

In the last few weeks, I have received emails from MF subscriptions I used to own (such as 10x) that advised me to sell many of the positions (e.g. FIVERR) because they no longer believed they would produce the returns they desired. With the wisdom I’ve gained from a concentrated portfolio and the opporunity cost of every investment, I sold those positions a long time ago.

I sure hope you continue sharing your wisdom on this board. During the really down days, I could read one of your posts and realize that the sun still rises even if the market does not.

Regards,
Stan

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Thanks Stan:

Best post on this board in a long, long time - except that wisdom thingy.

All the Best,

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It has become a complete mess. I subscribe to “epic bundle,” and in addition to the latest recs from 3 services, I’m also bombarded with lists of about 60 stocks each month that are supposedly recommended in different categories from each service. From SA: 10 aggressive pics, 10 moderate pics, 10 conservative pics. Same for RB. And real estate. And then rec lists from Epic, which supposedly pick the best from the other services (I’m still not sure)

There’s simply no way this many stocks can be properly vetted. And as a user, the information overload makes it all useless.

The new boards are a disaster, having lost many members due to their sheer complexity (someone from TMF will always chime in with a detailed explanation about how to use them, but that proves my point.)

David is gone. CAPS is ruined.

Thank god for Saul’s board, otherwise I would not be sticking around.

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The Fool has always seemed to me to somewhat/sort of resemble/mirror a G5 athletic program in that they just don’t seem to have a lot of depth: their main talent is ok but their bench is weak. Take David retiring from Rule Breakers. What a missed opportunity.

I have always thought that Rule Breakers should have approached Saul. I mean - IIRC, he ‘grew up’ in investing on The Fool. One of the best ever around these parts in my humble opinion. He brings a Rule Breaking strategy, a long term track record, and a soul/business centered philosophy seasoned with logic and common sense that doesn’t much waiver. When he is wrong he admits it and moves on - which; I realize might not blend well with the historical almost-never-sell Fool 5 Year or Bust plan. That said - wouldn’t you sign on to a Saul led Fool subscription service? Of course you would as would most of us.

Missed opportunity by The Fool IMHO - or perhaps they did approach Saul… and he turned them down? Dunno, but it’s an intriguing idea. One way or the other- the one thing I do know is that a Saul led Rule Breakers service would have been/and would be tremendously re-invigorated. The more I think about it the more I like it. Just think about all the really wonderful home grown investors The Fool has mentored over their years: I could name a dozen or so really good ones but I am afraid I might leave someone out.

Just some food for thought and come on Fool: You better call Saul!

All the Best,

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Yeah when David retired from the Fool i think that was a huge hit on the company. He seemed to be the one that could identify the good stock picks. Rule Breakers has been trash since he left. I dont think Tom is a stock picker, probably good at running a company. Seems like they are charging a lot more for subscriptions these days but their performance is dropping, not a good mix.

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Ya know…if I had to handicap a fight between Tom and David it would be a very close thing. Tom is a consistent puncher while David is quick and agile. I think over 6-8 rounds David would wear Tom down with perhaps a KO in the last seconds of the 7th. Now Tom could always connect with a lucky right that would stagger David - and David wouldn’t come out of it unscathed… but, if it didn’t take him out completely he would recover and put Tom away in the middle rounds.

Not a lock by any means but thats where my money might go.

All the Best,

1 Like

No email from the Fool for this guy. Probably (IMO) because I just subscribe to Stock Advisor. I previously had the Epic package, but didn’t see any benefit from added recommendations/boards, if any. Bottom line, I only see value these days in the various boards… the recommendations hold no appeal for me.

I guess I’m just a stick in the mud.

Rob
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

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“Bottom line, I only see value these days in the various boards… the recommendations hold no appeal for me.”

HI Rob:

You nailed it: I don’t think I’ve invested in one of my Fool service recommendations in several years now. Used to - when I went several months without investing in one of the recommendations - TOM and David would suddenly appear at the front gate all haggard looking, sad and dejected. After a few hours I would go ahead and let them in, give them a beer and promise to purchase the very next recommendation - which seemed to help their mood and perk them up. Hasn’t happened in a while now with David gone and all.

All the Best,

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Awwww… you’re a softie!

Rob
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

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After the board changed, I quite the paid services when my current subscription ran out. I wasn’t getting a lot of values out of the picks anyway but I found the boards were worth the price of admission. But that changed when they revamped the boards. The only reason now to stick around is for Champ, Dreamer, and Saul’s boards.

There are so many different alternatives now with Substacks, Discords that I don’t think TMF will ever recover to its former self. But still respect to what they have done as I am still here for over 20 years.

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Way back in 2001, I first discovered the Motley Fool website. I had read David and Tom’s books previously, and appreciated that they felt the average investor in stocks might be able to outperform Wall Street.

When I discovered the community at the Fool, I felt comforted. There were numerous posts doing analysis of individual stocks that exceeded my abilities, and all of the knowledge was shared, at no cost.

Back then, they actually offered classes to help educate members. I recall taking a course explaining how to read a financial statement, and another about options trading. At the time, I think the fee was $49 for the classes. It was well worth the cost for the education I received.

Their policy then was that you could subscribe to a service for 30 days, and receive a full cash refund, if you cancelled your subscription in those 30 days, or a pro-rated cash refund in the first year. They had only a few services, Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers, but others evolved, Hidden Gems and Paydirt. It’s curious how their investment performance and track records disappeared from the website.

I continued to subscribe to their primary services, but in the mid-2010’s, their marketing increased considerably, with numerous new ‘niche’ investing services being offered. Cannabis, Home Runs, etc., but the focus changed from stock picking to marketing.

The pricing for services became ‘dynamic’, meaning different people paid different prices for their subscriptions. They also altered their ‘refund policy’ to only allow refunds to be applied to other Fool services. The Fool had definitely become a different place from my initial experience. Less educational, more marketing.

When David Gardner left the Fool - retired?, I commented that he had departed at an opportune time. The market had turned on the unprofitable recs, many lost 70-80% of their value. Holding for 3-5 years is great in concept, but when your entire portfolio declines by 50-80%, the pain is real and unacceptable. Instead, Tom Gardner said nothing. Nothing. No sell recs. No guidance. Much of what was deleted from the discussion boards was valuable, but much of it was likely critical of the failure of the Fool to minimize the impact of market forces.

All that said, I learned much from the Fool. I have learned how to analyze individual stocks, and choose which make sense.

While I have re-subscribed for another year, I’m not certain I’ll be renewing. They lack the unique recommendations that once made them special. When I peruse their performance v. the S&P 500, 80-90% of their services/subscriptions have under-performed that benchmark. The few that haven’t are long-standing services (20+years) relying on the Amazon, Netflix and Google recs from many years ago.

Honestly, I wish newer visitors could have experienced what the Motley Fool once was - a vibrant community of investors seeking knowledge - and a website that provided resources and accommodated that community of investors. It was a beautiful synergy of people and talent!

Sadly, it’s now much more about the marketing of questionable services.

Fool On!

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Back in the day, the Motley Fool was about investor education. It was inevitable they would eventually be asked to be more directive in managing money. IMO, the business model flipped when they offered their first MF-inspired mutual fund. Then the Fool simply became another version of the advisors they originally railed against.

Nothing above is a complaint. It’s instead acknowledging a move from education to advisory services was the easiest way for the Fool to scale and increase their TAM. They’ve clearly done well, so kudos to them.

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