Cewebrity Interview with Craig of Craigslist

Graciously Craig of craigslist.org agreed to do an interview with me for Escapingthe9to5.com’s cewebrity interviews. Considering he is an online mogul who mainly stays behind the scenes I am incredibly excited about presenting this to all of you. Craig gives great insights, tips and advice for anyone involved in the online realm!

Interview with Craig

Maren Kate: I’m sure you get this millions of time, but what prompted you to start www.craigslist.org and did you have any idea it would become such a cultural icon?

I saw a lot of folks helping each other out on the Net in ’94, while evangelizing it at Charles Schwab. In early ’95, I decided to reciprocate with a mailing list for arts and tech events in San Francisco. Listened to feedback, responded by adding features, and that’s how we run today, under the stewardship of Jim Buckmaster.

Maren Kate: What have been the 2 biggest problems you faced when starting craigslist?

Craig: My impatience is sometimes a problem, and I didn’t listen to some good legal advice, and made some hiring mistakes.

Maren Kate: Since you have experience in the nonprofit realm how do you think charities & non profits can gain ground using social media to spread the word about their causes vs. the traditional marketing model of raising funds? In that same vein, craigslist seems to be based on a very word of mouth model, now with social media becoming so mainstream what would be the top tips you’d give aspiring entrepreneurs or web persona’s to grow their brand via the ‘grass roots’ method.

Craig: I’d suggest continuous engagement via email, and all forms of social media, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Just keep using them, and genuinely respond to people. There are some folks you can never make happy, there’re very few, but they can be noisy.

Maren Kate: What are the top 3 tips you’d have for someone starting an online business or organization.

Craig: Treat people like you want to be treated, including good faith customer service. Live and let live. Give the other person a break.

Maren Kate: You seem to have always stayed “behind the curtain” so to speak in the midst of such a vastly successful site, you could have easily of reveled in the glory of creating a cultural online icon from scratch but instead you’ve stayed very humble… can you explain why and how you’ve done it.

Craig: I don’t know another way to do it.

Maren Kate: I’ve read several of your posts on your personal blog, you seem deeply committed to supporting the troops and veterans of war, what made this one of your passions & how have you been able to use your talents to do so.

Craig: Not sure, but I do recall seeing Vietnam vets not treated well, and we did see the previous Administration failing to support the troops, so I figured I’d try to help. The people doing the heavy lifting are at IAVA, the VA, VFW, etc, my contributions are minor.

Maren Kate: Are there any other interesting online projects you have in the works that you can tell us about?

Craig: I’ve just gotten involved with Wikipedia to help out, but that’s just started. My focus will be governance and information quality.

Please feel free to post your comments & reactions. Follow Craig on Twitter @craignewmark and read his personal blog here.