"I find their whole strategies painful," Mr. Cramer said.
While working as a columnist for Dow Jones & Co.'s SmartMoney last year, Mr. Cramer thought of a different way to run a Web-based publication: Make the content so desirable-with strong, well-written investment advice-that people will pay for it. Advertisers will then want to reach these readers, and before long, it's a profitable venture.
Dow Jones loved the idea, Mr. Cramer said, but refused to give him any ownership rights. So Mr. Cramer went to Martin Peretz, chairman of The New Republic, and Messrs. Peretz and Cramer launched TheStreet.com as co-chairmen last November.
While other pay-only sites have failed to attract subscribers, such as Michael Kinsley's Slate for Microsoft Corp.-TheStreet.com now has 4,200 subscribers who pay $12.95 a month for witty, columnist-style money-management advice.
The site has amassed an advertiser list that includes American Express Co., AT&T Corp., IBM Corp. and MCI Communications Corp.
All of this has Mr. Cramer eyeing profits by August 1998. With competitors such as Bloomberg and Dow Jones aiming for the same market, Mr. Cramer said he plans on winning out with better editorial content and lower overhead. "I want to beat these guys," he said. "I want to put all those clowns out of business."
Betcha didn't know: Mr. Cramer worked as a vendor at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia for four years. During a Phillies' double-header in 1973, he claims to have set the all-time soda-selling record.