Need Help With Craigslist–Just Ask Craig

I suspect he is the customer service guy because he understands how important customer service actually is… and because his name is on every page.

I find Craigslist fascinating. It is the perfect example of a game-changing company. Not to be a Luddite, but Craigslist has something to do with the sorry of state of newspaper finance–one of the games it’s changed!

Stef, in the midst of looking for a job, has been scanning Craigslist. If you haven’t looked for a job in a while, it’s a ‘don’t miss’ spot.

Today she saw something that looked interesting. On the Craigslist posting was a link asking her to click to apply. Instead of the link taking her to the job listing’s particulars she ended up on a page promising her more info on this and other jobs if she paid to join the site.

Basically the company making the posting was using Craigslist to bring traffic and revenue to their site. That doesn’t seem right. I can’t imagine that’s how Craigslist was meant to be used, so I wrote them. Actually, I wrote to Craig himself via Twitter.

Craig is Craig Newmark. He could be fabulously wealthy… if he’d only ‘monetize’ his website. That’s not who Craig is.

From “Craig is a hardcore Java and Web programmer who grew up wearing a plastic pocket protector (?) and thick black glasses, taped together, the full nerd cliche. “

Craig doesn’t run Craigslist. He does handle its customer service. I tweeted.

geofffox @craignewmark My daughter, looking for job. has “apply now” button which leads to pay site. Is this Kosher on ur site?

I used each of my 130 allowable characters! A few minutes later Craig responded

craignewmark @geofffox doesn’t sound right, will take a look.

I don’t know Craig, though we’ve traded tweets in the past. I tried to help him with a weather problem while he was flying from New York City. I suspect he is the customer service guy because he understands how important customer service actually is… and because his name is on every page.

Does Free Cost Too Much?

A bunch of bankers got knocked for a loop when they heard from Jim Buckmaster, of Craigslist:


Jim Buckmaster, the chief executive of Craigslist, caused lots of head-scratching Thursday as he tried to explain to a bunch of Wall Street types why his company is not interested in “monetizing” his ridiculously popular Web operation. Appearing at the UBS global media conference in New York, Mr. Buckmaster took questions from the bemused audience, which apparently could not get its collective mind around the notion that Craigslist exists to help Web users find jobs, cars, apartments and dates — and not so much to make money.

Wendy Davis of MediaPost describes the presentation as a “a culture clash of near-epic proportions.” She recounts how UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn’t, Mr. Buckmaster replied (perhaps wondering how Mr. Schachter could possibly not already know this). “That definitely is not part of the equation,” he said, according to MediaPost. “It’s not part of the goal.”

Whoa! Money isn’t the essence of business? Wow.

I’m just as greedy as the next guy (maybe more so). This is such a foreign concept. Craigslist sounds like a throwback to the days of mainstream socialism.

I’ve never used the site. I have looked. I know lots of people do use it… actually millions use it.

It’s become a vacuum cleaner, sucking money from newspapers. Classified ads were a huge source of income.

I’m all for competitions, but what if removing this revenue makes the newspapers lose their financial viability?

From Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News:

The American newspaper is being assassinated by “a lone nut.”

And we’re going to tell you the name of that lone nut:

Craig Newmark of Craigslist (not pictured above) — a man whose altruistic vision of running a business to NOT maximize profits is now threatening the livelihood of thousands of working men and women across this country, your neighbors who work at and publish your local newspaper, jobs that were once supported by the classified ads that have migrated to the most free (or low-cost) Craigslist.

Will Craigslist inadvertently stop the presses? I don’t want the physical newspaper to disappear from my life. As strange as it seems, it’s totally possible.

I’m all for the Internet and progress through technology… but I’m also all for the newspaper. I have no idea where to stand on this.

Enough Is Enough

I make a good living. It’s not enough.

I watch actors in the movies. They already have fortunes beyond my wildest dreams. Still, they’re acting for cash. What they have is not enough.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Sumner Redstone… these guys are working? Why? Obviously, whatever they’ve got, it’s not enough.

The exception to this universal mindset is Craig Newmark. He is Craig of is to the worst thing to ever happen to classified advertising… at least that’s how folks in the newspaper business feels. All those lovely little ads selling everything in your daily paper – they’re free on Craigslist&#185! It’s tough to compete with free.

From Reuters:

“Who needs the money? We don’t really care,” Craig Newmark said in an interview at the Picnic ’06 Cross Media Week conference here.

“If you’re living comfortably, what’s the point of having more?” Newmark said

Craig, you’re killing me. Can’t material wealth be an end unto itself?

“We both know some people who own more than a billion (dollars) and they’re not any the happier. They also need bodyguards,” he said.

Being privately held, no one knows what Craigslist’s revenue is. Even with the few categories that are monetized (a word I’m positive Craig doesn’t use), there’s more than enough cash for its 22 employees. Craig, who could easily be a millionaire many times over, still works on the site.

Seriously speaking, how can you fault him? He is a man of principles who decided not to sell out. There are far too few of those left.

But Craig, you really are giving the rest of us a bad name.

&#185 – There are some minor exceptions. Craigslist charges in certain categories in certain cities, but only enough to keep people from listing and relisting to keep atop the pile.