Where Jim Buckmaster goes to unwind

The latest issue of Fortune magazine has an interview with Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster — who may qualify as the world’s tallest free-standing chief executive, at six foot eight inches — in which the writer asks Jim some questions provided by readers, and then asks some of his own. The answers are very similar to the ones that the Craigslist CEO gave to Mark Evans when he did a keynote interview with Buckmaster during mesh (there’s video of their chat here, thanks to mDialogue and Mark McKay).

snipshot_e419d3j6hftv.jpgOne of the interesting things for me, because I’m nosy (occupational hazard, I’m afraid) came at the end of the interview, when Jim mentioned where he and his partner Susan Best like to go to relax: an organic farm called Emandal in Mendocino County. I figured it must be some kind of swanky resort with a gourmet chef, but I should have known better, given Buckmaster’s disinterest in such trappings of wealth.

As it turns out, Emandal is a tiny, unassuming family farm on a back-country road in the middle of nowhere and reportedly includes an ostrich named Huey. As it happens, one of the top results in Google for the term “Emandal” is a collection of photos from Smugmug of Jim and Susan enjoying their time at the farm (including a visit with Huey). Nice to see that Jim doesn’t just talk about not being interested in money — he acts like it too.

Gabe “Techmeme” Rivera speaks

Gabe Rivera — creator of Techmeme, the site bloggers love and/or hate (depending on whether they are on it or not — keeps his cards pretty close to his chest when it comes to the site and how it functions. And he doesn’t exactly spill the beans in a surprise interview with Beet.tv. But it’s still interesting to see and hear him discuss how it works. He also hints about doing some hiring, and possibly launching some new Techmeme spinoffs.


Phil Lenssen interviews Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz is a pretty smart guy — after all, he co-authored the RSS 1.0 standard for feeds when he was just 14 years old, and while still in his teens was working with Lawrence Lessig on some of the plumbing behind the Creative Commons initiative. He has also edited thousands of Wikipedia articles, and was a co-founder of Reddit, the Digg-style social news engine that was recently bought by Conde Nast.

snipshot_e4d9i36l6kt.jpgPhil Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped has posted a lengthy interview he did with Aaron via instant messaging, in which the 21-year-old talks about working at Conde Nast (he says he was asked to leave — and has made it clear he didn’t like working there, in blog posts such as the one I wrote about here), as well as his reaction to job offers from Google, his thoughts about Wikipedia and his views on sexism in the tech community. An interesting read. Aaron isn’t too clear about what he’s doing now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was something pretty interesting.

Sometimes the truth just slips out

(cross-posted from my media blog)

In a recent blog post, Anil Dash of SixApart wrote about the fallout from a comment that Seagate CEO Bill Watkins made to Fortune magazine, in which he said that his company’s products help people “buy more crap and watch porn.” The comment — which was made during an informal dinner with bloggers and reporters in San Francisco — apparently got Watkins into some hot water within the company, and so he sent out a memo to employees saying:

Unfortunately, and unwisely, I also used pornography as an example to illustrate a point. Fortune Magazine chose to focus narrowly on this example in their headline.

They are in the news business and eager to get their reader’s attention and I should have known better. Even though I believe Fortune’s headline writers took my comments out of context, I want you to know that I am sorry if this has in any way offended anyone.

As the original Fortune piece noted, Watkins is well known for being a colourful personality who likes to speak his mind. Some of those writing about the incident, incuding commenters on the followup post on Fortune’s The Browser blog, are afraid that the magazine’s choice to feature the quote prominently (including in the headline) might dissuade Mr. Watkins and other CEOs from being candid.

speak out.jpg

That may be — but it’s unlikely. What’s more likely is that the Seagate CEO feels completely comfortable with what he said, but issued the memo as a face-saving measure. After all, his comment wasn’t as bad as the one Ratner Jewellery CEO made in 1991, when he said (among other things) that a decanter set his company sold was cheap because it was “total crap.” The company’s share price fell by almost a billion dollars and he was soon the ex-CEO.

As Anil notes in his post, the Seagate incident was the result of a series of otherwise reasonable decisions: Watkins jokes around with bloggers at dinner, Fortune spots a salacious and funny quote, and an editor highlights it (editor Jim Ledbetter discusses his decision in the comments on the followup item). The Seagate CEO then says he is sorry, and life goes on.


John Furrier of Podtech has posted a comment to say that he was at the dinner with Watkins, and that he described in a post here that he thought Fortune blew the Seagate CEO’s remarks out of proportion.