Monday, November 16, 2009

Craigslist Founder Visits the Kelley School

This morning, Craig Newmark, founder of the popular online marketplace, visited the Kelley School of Business at IU and spoke to students. After some brief remarks about the origins of Craigslist, Craig spent nearly an hour answering questions from students.

Craigslist San Franciso was first launched in late 1995, but after a number of years leading the company, Craig decided that he preferred to be in close contact with his customers rather than oversee day-to-day operations. Craig's current contribution at Craigslist is customer service, which allows him to stay attuned to both positive and negative feedback from the Craigslist community.

With more than 50 million users each month, Craigslist is managed with very simple principles in mind. If a proposal won't yield better service to the community, it isn't adopted, whether the issue is increased monetization or an IPO. The improvements that are underway are things like making Craigslist available in more countries and more languages, and with less spam.

"This isn't altruism," Craig was quick to point out. It's what works for the community and what feels right to Craigslist.

When asked about future goals for the organization, Craig said that this aim was to keep doing more of the same on a larger scale, without messing things up. The audience was amused, but Craig was serious, explaining that in large organizations, people begin to tell top leadership what they want to hear. This means that the people at the top have difficulty getting good information, leading some organizations astray. Craig pointed to social media technologies as one way of keeping upper-level leaders in touch with the perspectives of customers and employees.

If you want to hear more from Craig Newmark, you can follow him at @craignewmark on Twitter, or friend him on Facebook:

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