Monday, December 5, 2011

It All Started With a List

Chances are you've never heard of Craig Newmark but you've heard of his list. Newmark is the founder of Craigslist, the extremely popular online classified site that helps users find everything from cars and apartments to jobs and local events. After receiving Bachelors and Masters degrees from Case Western Reserve University in the 1970s, Newmark spent 30 years working in the computer field for a variety of companies including Bank of America, Charles Schwab, GM and IBM.

When Newmark relocated to San Francisco in 1995, he started a list of all his friends' e-mail addresses. He sent notifications of area events to the list and before long, many people were asking to be added to the list and to have their events or job openings distributed. As the distribution list grew, new categories were added including job openings and for sale items. In 1996, Craigslist transitioned from an e-mail distribution list to a website and by 2000, pages were added for Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and six other regions. That same year, Newmark realized that the project he considered his hobby had grown by leaps and bounds and decided to hire nine employees to help develop and maintain the site.

Until 2004, all listings on Craigslist were free, regardless of the category. Starting in 2004, the company began charging  certain listings such as job postings in some of the larger markets. Despite this fact, Newmark does not focus on the fact that his site could be making more money if he charged  all listings or added advertising; however,he is more interested in helping people find what they need. Newmark works at Craigslist not as an executive as many might think but rather as a customer service representative seeking out people using Craigslist to scam others.

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