December 15, 2006

Confused capitalists

Jim Buckmaster of Craigslist recently spoke to Wall Street in a language they could not comprehend.

UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn’t, Mr. Buckmaster replied.... “That definitely is not part of the equation.... It’s not part of the goal.” How about running AdSense ads from Google? Craigslist has considered that, Mr. Buckmaster said. They even crunched the numbers, which were “quite staggering.” But users haven’t expressed an interest in seeing ads, so it is not going to happen.... Larry Dignan at ZDNet described the audience as “confused capitalists wondering how a company can exist without the urge to maximize profits.”

John Scalzi comments:

Craigslist was not initially designed to make tons and tons of money for Craig Newmark, as I understand it. He wanted to help people find things.... Presumably it's doing well enough. Unless Newmark and Buckmaster suddenly decide that what they both really need is a 300-foot yacht stocked with cocaine and supermodels, how much more do they need?

How can you not love these guys?

December 10, 2006


Verizon's telephone support folks remind us just how bad innumeracy can be.

The number one post on YouTube yesterday is twenty minutes of converation with multiple levels of Verizon management who do not know the difference between 0.002 cents per kilobyte and 0.002 dollars per kilobyte. The conversation is a series of failed attempts at basic math education over a seventy dollar bill. Verizon not only falsely advertised a price then billed one hundred times the promised rate, but when confronted with this fact, several representatives confirmed the promised rate, then did "the math" in such a wrong way to defend the error. I listened to the whole thing out of sympathy for math teachers everywhere.

As Mark Chu-Carroll says: The fustrating thing about this whole ordeal is that obviously none of these people would have been hired if they didn't know how to read and write.

The one bright spot this incident illustrates is the notion that consumers have a new tool against the forces of corporate incompetence. When sites like YouTube are able to air grievences to hundreds of thousands of sympathetic listeners, public relations should demand that this level of abuse not be tolerated. One hopes.

Listen on YouTube

Read the transcript on

xkcd check for Verizon

December 04, 2006


Why it pays to be a world-famous author with a widely read blog when deadlines loom and buggy DRM goes awry:

At 3:01 am Neil Gaiman writes:

Bloody Final Draft

You know, if I was ever going to write a screenwriting program, I would make sure that the bloody thing didn't hiccup, randomly "lose authorisation," and stop working when an author was on deadline. And if it did suddenly decide it wasn't authorised, I'd at least have some way to fix it if it happened late at night, when the nice support people are home in bed and authors are on deadline.

Sorry. Just wanted to grumble. Final Draft isn't cheap. I really think it ought to work.

At 11:32 am Neil Gaiman writes:

Not quite so bloody really

The phone just rang and it was Brendan from Final Draft, who reactivated my authorisation and was baffled at why or how it happened ("There are lots of reasons for losing authorisation. Yours just doesn't fit any of them.") So I can open the script again, and am reminded of why I stick with them. Lots of people wrote in suggesting different screenwriting programs, and I'm grateful, but for now I'm more or less happy.

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