Craigslist's founder on the future of digital
Craigslist's founder on the future of digital - iMediaConnection.com
Highlights from the interview:
iMedia: Advertisers are very nervous about going outside the traditional publishers, aren't they?
Newmark: Advertisers have to be both careful and take chances with new media. That's not easy.
iMedia: With millions of ads posted and answered, Craigslist is a repository of user behavior online. What have you learned about how we interact online? Do you ever mine your user data?
Newmark: We don't do it. We don't help anyone do it. The deal is that we do have big privacy concerns. The big surprising thing we've learned is that people across the country and the world seem to share the same basic values: Treat people like you want to be treated, and give the other person a break. That's pretty universal. People are overwhelmingly trustworthy and good, with only a tiny percentage of predators -- maybe 1 percent. But those are the exception, and you find them in big cities and small towns. People are smart, and they email me when something smells fishy.
iMedia: Advertisers are eager to form communities around their products or services. What is community and how do you build it?
Newmark: I don't know, but if people feel connected through some mechanism, then it's a community. Craigslist just happened. The idea is we provided a platform, and people used it, and we stayed out of the way. And we just let things evolve naturally. The best example of something that happened fast and in a useful way is the response to Katrina. People repurposed our New Orleans site, so that friends and family got help, people located survivors and vice versa. People offered housing and later jobs to survivors. We've seen that happen in a smaller way regarding Gustav and Ike.
iMedia: There's been a lot of talk these past few years about the growth of mobile. What's your take, and how have you and your team planned for bringing Craigslist to the handset?
Newmark: Right now our site is pretty good for mobile devices. There was a recent report talking about how much our site is used on mobile.
Sometimes the classifieds are not the best model. The best tool for internet access for everyone in the future will be our phones. In the U.S., and increasingly in developed nations, everyone has or will have a phone. Right now the universal manifestation of the net is actually texting. I consider texting part of the internet.