He has made friends here, knows their names and the names of their kids and dogs.He relaxes enough to free-associate, a Newmark conversational trademark.

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Soon friends told friends about the e-mails they were getting from a fellow named Craig, hailing them as gift baskets of sorts, filled with information about San Francisco culture.

Friends asked whether their friends could be added to Newmark's list. In return, those readers contributed their own bits of San Francisco news for Newmark to recycle, including job openings and available housing.

"When you grow up a nerd, you feel like an outsider," Newmark recalls.

"It pretty much always sticks with you." Newmark, now 51, is still an introvert, still attends social events and wonders what he's doing there, still makes wry jokes that can get lost in translation.

The perfect example would be a woman may be real interested in me and I'll miss it completely." While he was at his first job, as a software programmer for IBM, he enrolled in ballet and jazz dance classes to meet women. "This is mostly a story of dumb things a guy will do in his 20s to meet women," he says, laughing. That's when a colleague, Darek Milewski, now at Oracle, introduced him to the early Web—and the first use of point-and-click browsers.

"Even I was able to guess at the potential of the thing," he says.

One baby can't take her eyes off the gnomish man, stout and balding with a rosy face, mustache and goatee.

Newmark wiggles his fingers at the toddler and laughs from his belly.

In high school, Newmark wore a pocket protector and black-rimmed glasses, taped together.

He got low marks in "plays well with others." His sixth-grade teacher sent him to the school counselor, who fretted about Newmark's lack of social skills, then gave up and taught him chess, one of the least social games on the planet.

He'd eventually like to charge for job listings in Los Angeles and New York.