Search the Site

Questions About Craigslist? Ask Craig (and Jim)

Raise your hand if you’ve never visited Craigslist. Just as I thought: I don’t see many raised hands out there.

In my opinion, Craigslist is one of the most revolutionary elements of the Internet revolution: simple, scalable, useful, powerful, and therefore omnipresent. So I am very happy to announce that Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster, the company’s founder and CEO, respectively, have agreed to answer your questions about Craigslist. As always, leave your questions in the comments section below, and we will post their answers within a week or so. Although many questions are welcomed, time and space may not allow for all of them to be answered.

(BTW, we recently asked whom you wanted to hear from in future Q&A’s and Quorums; your suggestions were fantastic — thanks — and we’ll try to make some of them happen.)

I met Craig briefly the other day at an event I hope to blog about soon. He seems like a wonderful guy. His bio is so interesting that I will print it here in its entirety:

Craig is a customer service rep and founder of craigslist. He’s a senior Web-oriented software engineer, with around thirty years of experience (including 17 years at IBM), and has learned a lot about online community and customer service as the “customer service rep and founder” for for twelve years. He’s compiled extensive experience evangelizing the ‘net, leading, and building, including efforts at Bank of America and Charles Schwab.

He’s one of those guys you hear about who grew up wearing a plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses, (taped together), and who expresses his inner nerd via obsessive commitment to customer service for the craigslist community.

In 1995, he started craigslist, which serves as a non-commercial community service with classifieds and discussion forums. Craigslist focuses on helping people with basic needs, starting with housing and jobs, with a pervasive culture of trust. He brings with him all the glamor of George Costanza.

Craig’s also involved with a number of community efforts, particularly involving public diplomacy/Mideast peace and new forms of media, involving participatory journalism. He’s on the boards of Sunlight Foundation, OneVoice, FactCheckED, and VotoLatino.

When we met, Craig emphasized that Jim would be the best person to answer questions about the business side of Craigslist, and I’m delighted that Jim also agreed to participate. His bio gives Craig’s a run for its money on the interesting front:

Possibly the only C.E.O. ever described as anti-establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist, Jim has since 2000 led craigslist to be the most used classifieds in any medium, and one of world’s most popular Web sites, while maintaining its public service mission, non-corporate vibe, and staff of 20 or so.

Before devolving into management, Jim contributed craigslist’s homepage design, multi-city architecture, discussion forums, search engine, community moderation system, self-posting process, personals categories (including missed connections), and best-of-craigslist.

Prior to craigslist, [Jim] directed web development for Creditland (defunct) and Quantum. In 1994-95, he built the terabyte-scale, database-driven Web interface at ICPSR through which researchers worldwide access the primary data archive for the social sciences.

After graduating summa cum laude from Virginia Tech (biochemistry), Jim attended medical school, studied classics, and made tofu at the University of Michigan.

Ridiculously tall, Jim has been the subject of feature stories in [the] New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, and S.F. Chronicle, and has made dozens of television appearances, including being denounced on Fox News by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell.

Ask away, and thanks in advance to all of you, and especially to Craig and Jim.

Addendum: The answers to these questions can be found here.