Craig Newmark: Craigslist Founder and Customer Service Guru
Name: Craig Newmark
Job Title: Customer Service Rep and Founder of craigslist
Where: San Francisco, CA
Years of Experience: 30
Salary: Top Secret (See PayScale’s Average Customer Service Salary)
Customer Service Job Description:
I perform specialized customer service functions, including fighting online scams. I also talk to the press as required. Jim (Buckmaster) is a much better manager than me, but I’m really good at customer service and customer feedback. It helps me maintain the spirit of craigslist, and shows that we’re committed.
What is the job description of a customer service manager on craigslist?
Our ads are completely self service. People will request a new forum, and if we okay it, it builds itself. We work with cops to help pursue bad guys. We also work really hard to respect the rights of the accused. That’s more important than ever with the Constitution under attack.
How did you get the idea to create craigslist?
I didn’t… in ’94 I saw a lot of people helping each other out on the ‘net, and thought I should give back a little. In early ’95 I started a simple mailing list for arts and technology events. People suggested additions to it, and I followed through. Nowadays, we solicit customer feedback, and do something about it, and repeat. That’s to say almost all of craigslist is based on customer feedback.
What do you love about your job?
The sense that we on craigs list help people help themselves and that we’re changing things; craigslist is very simple and very effective.
What was your job before craigslist?
I was a contract programmer, a systems architect and net Evangelist at Charles Schwab.
How does craigslist compare to your old job at Charles Schwab? What do your former employers think?
It’s hard to compare environments, since I’ve helped design how craigslist works. I’ve spoken with a few people from my Charles Schwab time, and they really love what we’re doing.
Do you have any advice for someone trying to create a popular web site like yours?
Obsess about customer service and customer feedback.
Should people build web sites where users create content, like craigslist and YouTube.com, etc.?
I think that’s a great way to do things, one of a number of good approaches.
It’s been reported that your salary range is not very high, why is your salary range modest?
As far as a high salary range, who needs the money? Pretty much all world philosophies tell us it’s more important to help people out and focus on spiritual values. I’m no altruist, and not pious. I’m just following through on my values and beliefs. That’s more a priority than the salary range.
Do you know the guys who started Yahoo, YouTube.com, and Google?
I’ve met and chatted with ’em, but don’t really know ’em. My visual skills are bad; can’t tell the difference between Larry and Sergey.
Is there any competition between craigslist and web sites such as MySpace.com, YouTube.com? Ever met Bill Gates?
I don’t know of any such competition; never met him.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you during your job?
Some of the posts, like the guy who tried to hire someone else to take the CPA ethics test for him and “Snakes on a craigslist.” An ad for a reality show, maybe fake, about people getting bitten by snakes as part of the show. I think I blogged it at CNewmark.com
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