The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist. Not surprisingly, the Journal’s Brian Carney projected a befuddled confusion as to why this electronic phenomemon doesn’t properly exploit it’s revenue potential. Wall Street’s mouthpiece can’t understand why a profitable organization that more than satisfies its customers doesn’t wring out every spare nickel it can spot. The Journal, it seems, cannot be introduced to a Golden Goose without reaching for a hatchet.
Buckmaster does a great job of spurring Carney to wonder if he is a communist. As the head of one of the first entrepreneurial successes of the Internet era, Buckmaster would have been justified to laugh uproariously in Carney’s face.
But, instead, Buckmaster defended the Craigslist model, pointing out its longevity in a field sown with failure. He went on to address some broader issues that touch on the future of conventional publishers:
“In Mr. Buckmaster’s view, newspapers would be better off being a little more Craigslist-like: Go private, eschew Wall Street’s demands for continually “goosing profitability” and give your readers what they want.”
Damn Commie! Catering to customer’s wants and needs? Who does he think he is? The real brilliance in that clip is the idea that newspapers have much to gain by divorcing themselves from their corporate parents so that they can focus on producing superior journalism rather than short-term quarterly earnings results. Superior journalism would, in the end, give them what they really want – more readers, advertisers, and profits.
We all know how these megaliths are consumed with greed. The question now is, are they greedy enough to do what is truly in their best interest?