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Jim Cramer doesn't like the Web. While that might be a curious statement for the head of a Web-based magazine to make, Mr. Cramer was referring to the Web's traditional business model, not its technology. The founder and co-chairman of TheStreet.com describes the practice of pouring millions of dollars into print publications and distributing their content for free online as "stupid," and "a colossal joke."

"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.

Vital Stats:
Title:Co-chairman, The Street.com, New York.
Age/bio:42, born in Philadelphia. Bachelor's degree in government, Harvard University, 1977; J.D., Harvard Law School, 1984.
Career highlights:Reporter, American Lawyer, 1979-83; broker, Goldman, Sachs & Co., New York, 1984-87; president, Cramer & Co., New York, 1987-present; current post, 1996-.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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