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Craigslist's founder on the future of digital

Craigslist's founder on the future of digital Susan Kuchinskas

Craig Newmark didn't set out to change the world. All he wanted to do was let his friends know about interesting tech events when he started his email list. In 1995, before the idea of "viral" had been invented, people passed his emails, and later, the URL, from person to person.

Today, there are Craigslists in some 550 cities in 50 countries and more than 12 billion page views a month, making it the eighth most-visited English-language site. Yes, those are stats to die for, but publishers and marketers who try to pick Craig's brain won't find any cutting-edge strategies. The success of Craigslist lies in the ancient formula of being in the right place at the right time with something people need.

Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist.

He's been credited -- and vilified -- for almost single-handedly killing the newspaper industry by offering free online classifieds. That's hardly fair; the internet was bound to provide a cheaper, easier and faster way for people to buy and swap stuff sooner rather than later. He did create an economic and social revolution, nevertheless. Suddenly, strangers were showing up at each other's doors with cash in their hands, anxious to take home someone else's discard. And think of how many futons and tricycles Craigslist has kept out of the landfill.

Today, CEO Jim Buckmaster manages the 25-person operation, while Craig fulfills what they ironically call "iconic" responsibilities. (His iconic status also allows him to be known simply as "Craig.") He also handles high-level customer service. For example, police departments around the nation can call him on his cellphone to check out possible Craigslist scams.

He's also putting his time and money into social-good programs. For example, he works with the 

iMedia: There's been a lot of talk these past few years about the growth of mobile. What's your take, and how have you and your team planned for bringing Craigslist to the handset?

Newmark: Right now our site is pretty good for mobile devices. There was a

Susan Kuchinskas is a freelance writer who has written for Adweek, Business 2.0, M-Business and internetnews.com.

Susan Kuchinskas has covered internet technology since the mid 1990s, when e-commerce was kind of a wacky idea. As a senior writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, M-Business and internetnews.com, she's watched the interactive advertising grow from a tiny...

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