Craigslist: The Anti-Company

A NY Times blog asks Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster, the founder and CEO, respectively, of Craigslist a few questions about why their company is so different. Here are some of the more interesting quotes that illustrate the unique nature of Craigslist:

  • “It sounds old-fashioned, but we generally don’t view information submitted by our users as data to be used for other purposes.”
  • “If there was a better Craigslist that was genuinely well-intentioned and sustainable, that would certainly make our lives easier.”
  • “We really don’t advertise or promote in any significant way, and we don’t market the site. Word of mouth has worked well for us.”
  • “The traditional philanthropic model is to make as much money as possible and then give a percentage back to the community. We do donate more than 1 percent of our revenues to charitable causes, but we feel it is much more important to serve the community directly as our primary business.”
  • “A wag once said that Craigslist has all the visual appeal of a pipe
    wrench, which we took as a compliment. But we are always trying to make the site easier to use, more accessible, and even speedier.”

They also speak to how new economics affect the traditional model of journalism:

Q: Do you see a smart online business model for traditional media that will permit newspapers and other publications to continue to do deep reporting and attract talented journalists?

JIM: Investigative journalism at traditional media outlets has been hurt badly by financial prosperity. The bigger and more successful the media companies get, the more likely they are to be dominated by bottom-line business managers, and from a business standpoint it makes no sense to alienate the most powerful persons and institutions, who by definition are those most in need of investigative reporting. Hence the lack of tough questions from well-funded media, leading to a misled public…

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