Thursday, February 28, 2008

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is anything but a typical entrepreneur — if one could even call him that.

Mr. Newmark has no management role at the company he incorporated in 1999. He also doesn’t care about making money.

“To say that we have a business plan or road map is kind of laughable,” the laid-back Mr. Newmark told The Washington Times today while attending a conference in McLean.

The classified ads site that started as an e-mail list of Bay-area events in 1994 now attracts a whopping 9 billion page views per month, but the San Francisco Internet pioneer has no interest in running banner ads or charging users. Instead, his 24-person company supports itself by collecting fees for job posts in 11 cities and for apartment listings in New York City.

Ironically, Mr. Newmark — whose company has never accepted funding or a loan — was in McLean this morning to speak at the Southeast Venture Conference, a gathering of startup companies and venture capitalists. Asked about the reason for his presence, he says, Its mutually entertaining.

“I am living comfortably,” Mr. Newmark says when asked about his decision not to advertise.

The site itself, though tweaked now and then, is much the same as it has been for years, albeit in more cities. With simple columns in lowercase type, the page is easy to navigate. Its discussion forums resemble the Wild West, guaranteeing users anonymity and the ability to speak freely, for the most part. (Mr. Newmark says much of his time is spent monitoring the forums for spam and fraudulent “disinformation,” which he takes down.)

As for competitors — newspaper ad pages, auction sites including, job hubs like and others — Mr. Newmark says the company doesnt consider them.

“Id much rather take a nap,” he quips.

So what does Mr. Newmark care about?

“We do one thing well. Not screwing it up is good.”

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