Back in 1994-96 I was working for the Mayor of San Francisco (Frank Jordan, “the one before Willie Brown” as one friend persisted in calling him), and among other projects I was working on policies to nurture and promote the emerging Internet economy, particularly the slowly burgeoning culture of Web startups – at times it seemed like the center of the universe was around South Park in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. For the Mayor’s ’95 re-election campaign we put up one of the first political campaign websites, winning an award from “Campaigns & Elections” magazine.
One of the cool people I worked with on innovative ideas for the nascent Web back then was Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. Like many people in San Francisco, I remember when using Craigslist was synonymous with “finding local S.F. stuff,” and have watched with delighted awe as the site (nonprofit empire!) has grown over the years. The model absolutely rocks, in its simplicity, consistent innovation, and its universality.
I still love it, and my wife and I have used it for innumerable small and big transactions – we even sold a Steinway grand piano on Craigslist once! The site also has a sense of humor; they maintain a running list of community-nominated “Best of Craigslist” ads, like this ad for a “Free Coffin” or this recent politically motivated spoof ad, “Free Hillary Clinton Campaign Material: Bumper stickers, yard sign, pins, mugs, folders, letterhead and a large banner. Won’t be needing them. Location, 16th & Penn, Washington DC.”
More to the point, here’s a quick excerpt from an excellent interview with Newmark this week in the Seattle Times, in which he goes over the business model, competitive forces, the future of media, and his support for Obama:
Q: I wonder if Google’s leaving the local commerce space open for a partner like you.
A: I don’t know, yeah.
Q: OK, no comment on that one?
A: I just don’t know, frankly. While I enjoy the sound of my own voice, sometimes I know that everyone is better off if I just stop talking. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Q:Are you friends with the guys at Google?
A:I’m friendly with [founders] Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin], but I still can’t tell them apart. Every time I see them, it’s a faux pas.
Q: Do you have much interaction with Microsoft?
A: Not much. We do chat and actually they’ve been pretty positive about helping out at times. That’s cool.
Q: How has the site traffic been lately?
Right now, over 10 billion page views per month, 567 cities, 55 countries. (Yawns).
Q: Is it going down or up?
A: Traffic just keeps going up…
Filed under: innovation, Microsoft, R&D, Society, Technology Tagged: | advertising, business, Clinton, community, computer, Craig Newmark, Craigslist, Frank Jordan, Google, Hillary Clinton, humor, internet, Larry Page, mayor, media, Microsoft, news, newspapers, Obama, political campaign, politics, San Francisco, Sergey Brin, social software, tech, Technology, web, websites