The Craigslist (www.craigslist.org) online community, founded by Craig Newmark in 1995, features lists of jobs, apartments, services, and all kinds of odds and ends for more than 23 U.S. cities. Newmark, a former computer programmer at Charles Schwab in San Francisco, wanted to help people connect on the Internet, so he started an electronic mailing list about cool events in the San Francisco area. It was such a hit that Newmark created a website, and in 1999 quit his job to run Craigslist full time.
Today, his company has 14 employees and is turning a profit, though its only revenue stream is a $75 charge to employers and recruiters for job postings in San Francisco. And while he is adamant about not running ads on his web pages, he is considering charging for other listings.
While the self-proclaimed computer nerd had no initial mission for Craigslist, Newmark now hopes to show people that social responsibility and profitability are not mutually exclusive. “We’re helping preserve the original vision of the ’Net by helping make peoples’ lives easier and changing the way they do things,” he says.
Craigslist added almost a dozen new cities before the end of 2003 and plans to keep adding as requested by users. “We’re restricted to the planetary surface,” says Newmark, “but for people in any city who want one, our goal is to get them a Craigslist.”