craigslist > about > press > revolution

from New York Post, July 31, 2002

Revolution by Nerd
By Johanna Huden

The folks at Enron, Tyco and Imclone could learn a lesson from Craig Newmark.

Simply put, he's a nice guy.

That's rarely a compliment in the often cut-throat business world. But Newmark (a self-professed nerd) believes the Internet will one day save the world. And the Morristown, N.J., native swears that's why he founded his revolutionary Web site, Craigslist.org.

The site offers free online classified ads. And (among other things) it's made a dream into a reality: Thanks to Newmark, you can find a Manhattan apartment without an expensive broker.

Landlords, management companies or people searching for roommates can post online themselves. On any given day, you can also find a sofa, a ride cross-country, a job or even a date.

"I like the idea of people giving each other a break," says Newmark, speaking from San Francisco, where he started the site 10 years ago.

Craigslist boasts an online community of 5 million, with some 1.5 million unique visitors a month.

And that's what makes it revolutionary. It's live - thousands of new browsers and posters every day - nearly national and free.

OK, so Newmark isn't a millionaire. He's not even rich. He doesn't have a vintage wooden yacht or a Nantucket mansion. Nor will he likely ever own $20 million worth of artwork like Sam Waksal or receive generous federal farm subsidies - subsidies! - like Enron's Ken Lay.

But then again, grandmas in Georgia don't hate his guts for running off with their retirement money.

The boy who used to wear the pocket protector and thick black glasses started his online community to . . . meet people.

"I wanted to get more connected to other people, and help others do the same. So I started posting cool events." The idea is simple enough: a free, no-frills ("I don't know any Web designs"), Web site for classifieds - oh, and it's self-serve, too.

The site now features listings for 13 major cities, including Austin, Los Angeles, Portland and Washington, D.C.

Craigslist relies, quite democratically, on surfers to flag miscategorized or abusive entries. Newmark has never accepted advertisements, and he's done no marketing of his own. He covers costs by charging San Francisco businesses that offer jobs a small fee.

"We grew by word of mouth and feedback, and in a sense that's our whole history."

And that - coupled with the lack of any graphics whatsoever - is exactly what gives Craigslist its down-to-earth, middle-class, community feel.

Newmark is so nice, he won't even bad-mouth brokers.

"I'd like to see brokers get a break, too, but I'd also like to see more of a balance between brokers, landlords, print classifieds and sites like ours."

Newmark compiles memorable postings that can be viewed under "The Best of Craigslist."

Like "Dog Needs Vs. My Life" (seeking a dog walker), "The Cat Made Me Write This" (man's cat begs owner to find a date) or "$175 - Stay in My Stationwagon for Cheap!"

His favorite so far?

"I Need Someone to Take CPA Ethics Test for me."

Hmm, maybe that guy went on to work for Arthur Andersen?