The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Craigslist founder speaks of online success

The creator of the wildly popular Craigslist.org, Craig Newmark visited St. John’s on Thursday Feb. 7 to discuss the success and failures of his rising company. He spoke before an audience of more than a 100 St Johns students, faculty and local reporters.

Newmark, a leader in online community success, launched the site shortly after moving from New Jersey to San Francisco.

After observing many people in the area and reaching out to one another in a friendly environment, he decided to create a similar setting online, broadcasting local events.
The first posting debuted on the site in early 1995, listing notices of social events about software and internet developers living in San Francisco.

As the site gathered local and national buzz, it grew in postings and subscribers.
After acquiring current CEO Jim Buckmaster, Newmark also gained eBay as a 25 percent investor. Even with these accomplishments, Newmark believes that ownership only matters on paper rather he sees Craigslist as a community service mindset.

A large part of the company’s success is due to Newmark’s approachable personality with community members and advisor. Newmark listened and gathered feedback from the public in cafes, through e-mails and conferences.

Newmark said he believes in treating people the way he wants to be treated, therefore showing the same courtesy in his business.
He said that Craigslist gives people a voice, a sense of community, trust, and privacy, which is one of the main reasons why there are many requests by
viewers about what should be put on the Web site.

Newmark also said that the advantages of having an interface like Craigslist.org is the simplicity- no fancy graphs to bog down the site’s speed.

With his 25 years of experience, Newmark is not interested in selling the company but considers it a consumer service.

The Case Western Reserve graduate looks into the future and sees his company in more cities and countries, supporting mobile devices, getting rid of spam and experimenting with thumbnail sketches of ads.

Even though Craigslist.org is not interested in diversifying and buying other companies, Newmark believes that, “the internet provides potential for more democracy.”

St. John’s students found Thursday’s guest speaker to be personable.

Sophomore Ryan Kunj noted, “He’s a pretty funny guy.”

He added, “I’m glad that some people that are regarded as nerds, make it later in life only to be looked up to in the future by those who once regarded them as nerds.”
Sophomore Vladimira Varbanova added that Newmark was “natural and approachable.”
When asked for his advice to those who want to start an online community
Web site Newmark stated, “As a tech guy I don’t have much advice but find out why you want to do it, what is going on in the community and start with simple mechanisms like blogs.”

Newmark also discussed the difficulties he faced. “The hardest part of starting an online information service,” he said, “is the marketing, communication, networking and being concerned with the loss of jobs along with investigative reporting.”

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