Today I heard Craig Newmark, Craigslist founder, speak in Austin. He blew me away. He has a calm manner, is soft spoken, has a wonderfully dry sense of humor, seems like a regular guy, and is a self-professed nerd. He is the founder of one of the most visited and impactful websites in the world and yet there is a humility about the guy.
I’m a huge fan of Craigslist. I have bought and sold cars, furniture, and household goods, given stuff away, gotten work, found a place to live, and joined groups and activities all through Craigslist. Craig said he is all about building communities and as I think about all I’ve been able to do through Craigslist, I’d say he’s succeeding.
One of the things that impresses me most is that Craig doesn’t do this to get rich or to build an empire. He started Craigslist because he wanted to give back to his community. He believes in the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and helping others out. He says that we are all pretty much the same and we experience more of a sense of community by remembering this rather than pointing to our differences.
Craig said that Craigslist has 12 billion page views per month and they have 567 cities throughout the world set up as communities on Craigslist. As a software programmer, he started Craigslist back around 1995 and did all the work on it himself for a few years. Now he sees himself as Customer Service and a lean crew of 25 people make up the whole company. Talk about efficient! Not only are Craig and Craigslist impressive, but Craig is also involved in many causes for good. I don’t know how the man has time to breathe.
After his talk and many questions from the audience, Craig was kind enough to greet people individually as they formed a long line. I shook his hand and mumbled a few words. He may be a nerd, but he impressed me and the crowd and I felt honored to meet him.