Financial Fineprint, Inc., a privately held firm led by Michelle Leder, has bought back the Footnoted business from Morningstar, which includes the footnoted.com website (formerly footnoted.org) and the footnotedPro service. The footnoted business was acquired by Morningstar in 2010 from Financial Fineprint. Leder founded footnoted in 2003. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Morningstar was attracted to the business by the retail following of the firm’s free website, which received kudos from the retail financial press. However, Leder’s core client base is hedge funds, who pay subscription fees for premium content: information on actionable items and trends in SEC filings. Morningstar was unable to leverage the acquisition to boost its presence among hedge funds, which are uninterested in the bulk of Morningstar’s broadly disseminated content, while Footnoted struggled to retain its hedge fund clients and attract new clients under the Morningstar brand.
So an amicable divorce was arranged. Joe Mansueto, founder of Morningstar, acknowledged that Morningstar erred in purchasing Footnoted.org: “Although we share a common goal with Michelle, which is to help investors make better decisions, the footnoted business does not fit into our longer-term strategic plans. We wish Michelle the best with this business.”
Meanwhile, Leder’s relief in gaining independence was palpable: “I am looking forward to taking back the reins of the footnoted business and working with our customers and subscribers to find new ways to invigorate the footnoted brand.”