Tech 101: Yes, Virginia, there really is a Craig

[Real deals: Craigslist’s Newmark, left, and CEO Buckmaster]

Profiles of Craigslist founder Craig Newmark often include the word “unassuming” — and with good reason. He sounded that way on the phone when he returned my calls at USA Today. I’d be working on a trend story, and needed a special data analysis on, say, the number of ads placed daily on his webpages by infertile couples seeking to buy human eggs. “Hi, it’s Craig,” he’d say in a barely audible voice.

Newmark and CEO Jim Buckmaster don’t seem like big-time media moguls — the sort running a company, now siphoning off millions in classified revenue from newspapers. Check out that photo, above, from this morning’s Newmark profile by The New York Times. San Francisco-based Craigslist runs lean (that peeling paint!) — just the sort of technology business start-up an aging newspaper publisher wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

Like a certain Google executive, Newmark and Buckmaster are high-profile players in the new generation of wealthy technologists giving traditional publishers the most competition they’ve faced in decades. In Washington, D.C., status is all about proximity to the Oval Office. Here on the Left Coast, it’s proximity to tech tycoons. (In a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon way, I think: I know a woman who knows a woman who’s been dating Buckmaster. . .)

Craigslist publishes most ads on its sites without charge. There are modest fees only for job listings and real estate in certain big cities; from those fees, the company generates $80 million to $100 million in annual revenue, the NYT says. It has a staff of just 25, including Newmark himself. What’s more, Craigslist’s revenues are growing with its expansion beyond first-tier cities such as Miami and into smaller places, including Janesville, Wis., (population: about 60,000).

Does Craigslist have a site in your Gannett community? What’s been the impact? Leave a note, in the comments section, below. Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images, via NYT]

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