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Middleman

One man's local e-mail list becomes a community marketplace and information treasure trove.
May 1, 2005
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/77198

Vital Stats: Craig Newmark, 52, of Craigslist

Company: Online community-based platform with marketplace services, discussions and personals

2005 projected sales: Media estimates $7 million to $10 million

Hit list: A system security architect at Charles Schwab in 1995, Newmark was "evangelizing" the internet with an e-mail list of interesting, local San Francisco events. Recipients started requesting additional inclusions such as job listings; Newmark obliged and watched his base grow. He soon transitioned from e-mails to a self-created website, keeping the moniker friends had given his popular list.

Cyber city: The easy-to-navigate site has eight main categories and numerous subcategories. Users can buy or sell items, seek jobs or housing, and even find love. The site added more locales in 2000 and now covers 99 cities, including 26 outside the United States. The website has 1.7 billion page views and 7 million users a month.

Added value: Craigslist is virtually free--it only charges for employer job listings in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, and may charge New York City apartment brokers in the future. There is no advertising. Says Newmark, "One fundamental question is, How much money do you need to make?"

Share alike: Though eBay bought a 25 percent stake in the company from a former Craigslist employee, Newmark is unperturbed. "EBay has a similar moral compass or conscience [as we do]. It makes them a good minority shareholder."

For the record: Newmark's site gained the interest of documentarians who shot a film scheduled for release this year. Naturally, much of the crew was found through a Craigslist job listing.