Low-key former Detroiter finds success on InternetBY EMILIA ASKARI
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
April 27, 2006
When Craig Newmark lived in Detroit in the 1980s and early 1990s, he was a computer programmer who worked in a Southfield office tower, servicing General Motors Corp.'s account with IBM.
He says he was socially challenged -- a typical nerd with dark black glasses and a pocket protector.
On Thursday, Newmark returns to the Detroit area in triumph as the founder of www.craigslist.org, one of the most popular sites on the Internet. Today, it has more than 10 million visitors and more than 4 billion page views per month. Newmark, 53, of San Francisco is to speak tonight at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills.
He created the listserv for a few friends, letting them know about cultural events around town. Soon Newmark turned it into a Web site. And craigslist was born.
It is one of the few Internet sites that makes money, though most of the ads on it are free. Newmark only charges for help wanted ads and real estate ads in a handful of markets. So how did Newmark become one of the most influential people in the online world? What are his thoughts on the future of the Internet, the news media and himself?
We asked, and he answered during a phone call this week.
Q: Do you consider yourself religious?
A: I'm spending a lot of time thinking about my values these days. I think people should treat each other like they want to be treated. My religion, superficially, is Conservative Judaism. I look at the guts of it and I see that what I got from it gives me a lot in common with just about any religion. I am practicing but not formally.
Q: I've read that last year, you made the first web broadcast into space with a company called the Deep Space Communications Network? What was that all about?
A: That was largely something for fun that Jim did. We're getting a lot of ads for inter-species dating. Apparently we're seeing a lot of tentacles.
This is generally a joke. At least that's what my alien masters want me to think.