I’m at the Marriott Marquis for the NAA National Convention in a fairly quiet ballroom full of people in the publishing business still trying to figure out Craig Newmark. I haven’t had a chance to ask anyone yet but it has to be a tad galling to those who spend their days immersed in business plans — ok, maybe more than a tad — to hear Newmark, as he’s interviewed by Charlie Rose, laugh off the idea of business models and talk about market expansion in terms of educated whims. Someone in front of me just leaned over and said, “He’s the character from Being There.” (That’s a reference to Chance the gardener, played by Peter Sellers in the movie; the simple man who accidentally gains fame as a wise man based on how others see him.) More after jump….
On newspaper industry: “I’ve spoken with a lot of industry analysts who say our contribution to that effect has been exaggerated.”
— “It concerns me that in some way we may be responsible for less money for investigative reporting.”
— He suggests that one of the key problems are the chains demanding big margins.
On Craigslist: Stresses that he’s a customer service rep, not the main person running the business. That’s Jim Buckmaster, the CEO.
— “To call what we have a business model … is laughable.”
— “We have no advertisers to keep happy, no investors to keep happy — which is a great relief.”
— Pressed to come up with a price tag for the company, Newmark replies: I’ve seen estimates in investment banker blogs that go anywhere from $250 million to $2.4 billion.
Guilt: Does he feel any guilt for being what some call a newspaper killer? “This is a time of creative destruction,” Newmark replies, likening it to the impact autos had when first introduced. “I do have a great deal of sympathy with the people who run printing presses because I think they