Craig's List


Craig's List

Interview - Craig Newmark

Interview: Craig Newmark, Creator & Director, Craig's List -
November 2003

What's your background?

Wore a plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses, taped together in high school, marginal social skills. (see Couple degrees in computer sciences from Case Tech, then seventeen years at IBM, mostly working with PCs and Unix. Couple years with Charles Schwab in SF, evangelizing the internet, then several years doing software contracting. I went full time with craigslist in early '99.

How did you actually get your start in the business?

(assuming you mean craigslist...) IN '94, I was looking a lot at the Net for Schwab, seeing a lot of people helping each other out. In early '95 I decided that I should do something, so I started emailing friends about cool events in SF. People asked for more, like job and apartment postings and the list grew via word of mouth.

When did you release you were really onto something?

Maybe around the end of '97, when I saw that the site had some kind of critical mass, and Microsoft Sidewalk people asked me to run banner ads. (That's when I decided that we wouldn't do banner ads.)

When did it turn into a real, profitable business? Early '99... but we think of it as a grassroots community service, not a business.

When did you know you were famous?!

Am I famous? Well, we all live on our illusions.

What countries has your business taken you, either in person or via virtual reality?

Australia (Sydney and Melbourne), Germany, the Netherlands, France, and England.

What kind of new opportunities did you success lead you into?

Nothing related to business, but I'm just starting to do something real to improve the nature of representative democracy in the US. (more in the blog.)

What motivates you?

Nerd values: first I need to earn an okay living, then change the world.

What did you do so right, that so many others failed at?

First, run and persist running a site that's a genuine community service, without specifically intending to get rich at it. Then, surround myself with people who are smarter than me.

What media coverage have you attracted over the years?

The press has been very kind to us:

What are your current projects?

Using the Net more effectively to promote communication between people and their elected representatives. (more on the blog)

What do you do to relax?



Editors note: This guy knows what the internet is all about. I want to become a nerd!


Craig's List

Interview - 7th February 2006


Craig's List

craigslist is about:

giving each other a break, getting the word out about everyday, real-world stuff.
restoring the human voice to the Internet, in a humane, non-commercial environment.
keeping things simple, common-sense, down-to-earth, honest, very real.
providing an alternative to impersonal, big-media sites.
being inclusive, giving a voice to the disenfranchised, democratizing ...
being a collection of communities with similar spirit, not a single monolithic entity.

a little history:

Craig Newmark observed people on the Net, on the WELL and in Usenet, helping one another out. In early '95, he decided to help out, in a very small way, telling people about cool events around San Francisco like the Anon Salon and Joe's Digital Diner. It spread through word of mouth, and became large enough to demand the use of a list server, majordomo, which required a name.

Craig wanted to call it "sf-events", but more knowledgeable friends suggested calling it "craigslist" to reinforce its personal and down-to-earth nature. He still finds it awkward that such a visible site is named after him, but he'll get over it.

Over time, people started posting items on the list in different areas, jobs, stuff for sale, and apartments, the latter in response to San Francisco's apartment shortage. Craig wrote software which could automatically add email postings to a site which became

After being approached toward the end of '97 about running banner ads, he decided to make craigslist non-commercial. Some things should be about money, some shouldn't, and I make enough doing contract programming." He was joined by other folks who proposed running face-to-face parties to make the sense of virtual community more physical, and who proposed creating a nonprofit foundation as part of craigslist.

Craig devoted himself full-time to craigslist in early 1999.

A lot of HR people and recruiters tell us that craigslist is the most effective job site in the San Francisco Bay Area... and now a February 2000 Forrester report confirms this.

What works

People tell us what they like about craigslist including:

Giving people a voice
A sense of trust and even intimacy
Consistency of down-to-earth values
No charges, except for job postings
Freshness of the material
No ads, particularly no banner ads

(courtesy Craig's List official website)