Tom and David Gardner will remain co-chairmen of the Alexandria, Va.-based company, which debuted on America Online in 1994 after winning financial backing from the online giant.
Garner comes to the Fool, a privately held company, after what has been called the longest-running executive search in the Internet sector--one that began last July.
"We've got our Fool," David Gardner said in a statement, adding that they interviewed dozens of candidates with strong experience. "But we haven't just been looking for a chief executive; we've been looking for a chief executive Fool, and there's a real difference."
Garner starts today with the Fool, bringing 30 years of global marketing experience at Coca-Cola, where he worked on the company's perennial branding battle with Pepsi. The experience may serve well to distinguish the Fool in an online sector brimming with nearly identical financial news sites.
Although its closest rivals--the more straightlaced CBS MarketWatch and TheStreet.com--rushed to the public market last year, the Fool decided to remain a privately held firm. A move that appeared foolish at the time now seems to have been astute: The stock values of its competitors have sunk well off their highs, while the Fool continues to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.