* writers note - this was a live blogging of the keynote address by Craig Nemark - there is bound to be some grammatical errors, as this was basically written as Mr. Newmark was talking off the cuff about the rise of Craig's List.
Craig Newmark of Craig's List
started out before'95 at Charles Schwabb evangelizing the internet. In high school he was the true "geek" in every definition of the stereotype.
Craig, started this email list in Pine to his friends about what was going on at diners and restaurants in San Francisco. It exploded, soon people were asking for events and even listing apartments. People passed this list around and then ask to be added, soon list was up 240 email addresses and Pine cannot handle anymore. His friend helped him upgrade, but he also needed a name - his friend's already called it "Craig's List". His first venture into branding, and it grew even more. Denise Caruso suggested that he start putting tags such as "Event" on the emails so they all knew what was going on in the emails. Eventually he remembered he was a programmer and took his emails and turned them into web pages.
This again, is all happening back in 1995. Now he hasn't programmed since 1999, now he does have programmers doing it - he jokes that they deny him root access now. But up until '99 he was doing software programming consulting, such as Bank of America. In 1997, Craig's List site hit a million page views a month. MS also approached him for their sidewalk product to put on banner ads. At that time he decided that that did not feel right, to slow, then that's when he decided no banner ads or pop ups.
Also at the end of 1997 people approached him about making it a volunteer organization and charging to post job postings. 1998 began that venture, but that didn't work out, mostly because he didn't really provide leadership, it started to fall apart. In early 1999 he took control back, and realized that this hobby was becoming a real job.
He did realize that his management skills, as he stated "major suckage". He hired Jim Buckmaster to manage. At 1999 he also rewrote the code for the site, and someone else tacked on the billing software. Technical staff is now directed to give him new gadgetry, to keep him out of the programming. Eventually they added more cities, such as NY. NY didn't really take off until 9/11. Soon after they introduced annonymous relay, got some complaints, so withing 2 days they pulled the programmers together and came up with the choice to post anonymously or with your email.
In 2000 he got feedback OK to charge for job postings and real estate ads. In NYC they actually ask to charge for the real estate ads. Apartment brokers made the need for this. They have a passionate volunteer who hates abuse. Craig also drops in on occasion to these apartment brokers - reaction goes from disbelief, to panic then photography.
Craig's List is still running Linux apache and MySQL. They run their own caching system which they hope to open as open source soon, but need more help. 120 cheap linux machines run the sites. Majority of their laptops and desktops are Linux. The usual email tool - Pine - still. Big lesson, there's fancy stuff, but somtimes you want something simple. In 1995 he had the opportunity to go fancy but wanted to keep it simple. Someone said once the Craig's list site has the visual appeal of a pipe wrench - he takes that as a compliment.
They are considered the "first movers" since this started in 1995. Have offers that are very high, but are not interested in selling. They are charging for less than 1/2 the use of the site right now and want to keep it that way. If you see an ad on their site you can flag for removal, if others vote for it too, it will be removed. It can be gamed, but they are working on that.
The internet is everyone's printing press these days. But how do you get people to pay attention to your stuff?
Something big is happening right now, ordinary people (moderates) are getting together and changing things on a massive scale. Howard Dean campaign to highlight that. Barrack Obama's campaign is really utilizing the internet and opening up a great deal. Sunlight foundation is shining the light on lobbyist giving money to congressman and senators. Electronic Frontier Foundation, fighting for the moderates - taking on the big telecoms, they are doing the heavy lifting and defying the "big guys". The theme here is that the moderates are getting together and changing things.
December 4, 2007