An evening with Craig Newmark is always a treat. The namesake behind the ever popular Craigslist has his signature shtick, but it is heartfelt.
Think YouTube's Chad Hurley gets all the love?
Newmark was the guest of honor at the Social Media Club's NYC meeting last evening and many of the new media professionals took the opportunity to personally thank him for how he has touched their lives: The $500 boat, the perfect sofa, the great new job...all transacted on Craigslist, for free.
Newmark again shies from the accolades: He just tries to "give people a break."
In typical Newmark fashion, he pontificated upon what drives him, "nerd values" and "speaking truth to power":
Fostering Craigslist Community Supporting Citizen Media Developing Micro-Financing
Why is Craigslist so successful?
We think of Craigslist as a form of Social Media.
We provide a simple service that is mostly free and we leave money in the community, instead of taking it away. Shared values, nothing fancy, treating people like we want to be treated.
What works on the net works for people in general. The net has very little to do with technology, what matters is how people use the technology
Plus, first-mover advantage was a plus, Newmark offered.
What about shareholder eBay?
The news is that there is no news. I saw Meg at a conference a few weeks ago, we said we needed to chat, but we never even managed to connect.
What else are you working on?
I am the "glamorous figurehead" of Craigslist Foundation. We organize non-profit bootcamps with classes to help non-profits articulate what they do in elevator style pitches so they can be successful.
I don't want to be just "eye-candy" though.
We are thinking about reputation systems and how they can help in both our economic lives and in governance. Who do we trust to do our dry cleaning? Who do we trust to be our president.
There are commercial rip-off scams for hundreds of dollars online, but politicians are successfully ripping us off for billions at a time.
Are you still a dedicated Customer Service Rep for Craigslist?
I am committed to doing customer service for Craigslist for the rest of my life. The exit strategy is death.
I asked Newmark if that means that he is also committed to not changing the Craigslist homepage design, ever.
I did the homepage 12 years ago when I had no design skills. There was a hompage redesign floating around a few years ago, no one cared about it outside of the design community.
Craigslist works because it is really fast, we are ahead of the performance curve.
And, "giving people a break," as many satisifed Craigslist "customers" attested to in an evening spent with Craig in the heart of Manhattan.