Make us your home page
Instagram

'Net nerd,' Craigslist founder wants to recruit you for the 'common good'

One of the great nerds of the modern Internet comes to town Friday with a message to Tampa Bay's technology innovators to leverage the power of social media to support the common good.

Craig Newmark, 58, who called himself a "nerd" at least three times in the course of a phone interview Wednesday from New York, spoke broadly about his recent efforts to promote legitimate philanthropy online and to help veterans and their families.

He delivers remarks Friday to a sold-out luncheon crowd at the Tampa Bay Technology Forum's annual "coolTECH" expo at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry.

"I want to cover a broad audience, especially those in technology," Newmark said of his reason for speaking here. "This is a time in history when we can provide tools for people to work together for the common good."

Newmark happens to be the "Craig" who founded Craigslist ( craigslist.org) 16 years ago as a free, online community notice board to sell used furniture and, later, to find apartments in San Francisco. Now it's morphed into the Internet's classified advertising juggernaut with more than 700 local sites in 70 countries that get more than 20 billion (with a B) page views every month.

It may be an online giant, but the for-profit, simple-styled Craigslist seeks little advertising. It still charges a modest sum for only a few services, like placing apartment ads via brokers in bigger cities. (In September, the site was pressured to shut down its money-making sex ads section.)

Analysts say if Craigslist ever starts charging for more classifieds, it could still make Newmark a billionaire. But he has apparently settled for a net worth that Forbes magazine last fall estimated at about $400 million.

Many in the newspaper industry still argue Craigslist, perhaps more than any other single Internet development, helped gut a key source of newspapers' revenue by diverting a large portion of classified ads to Craigslist. That makes Newmark a classic example of a "disrupter" by his creating a new service that overtakes an older one.

In a bizarre twist, Newmark is now working to promote quality journalism — with plenty of fact checking, some by citizen journalists — as one way to help support democracy in a changing world. He recently joined the board of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit news organization specializing in investigative journalism and public accountability.

Newmark is soft spoken, mild mannered and balding. He has a self-deprecating sense of humor, saying he is "comfortable" calling himself the "Forrest Gump" of the Internet. But his desire to speak often and promote social media as a tool to help society and democracy is forcing him, he says, "out of his comfort zone."

Instead of Gump, he now describes his role as more like the Internet's "Lady Gaga" — only without the elaborate costumes (though he did volunteer he'd look good dressed as a giant pocket protector).

Newmark's latest online project, unveiled earlier this year, is called craigconnects.org. Its mission is to identify and bring together those nonprofits and public-service organizations that Newmark considers both worthy and able to get things done.

Not bad for a nerd.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

coolTECH expo

When: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday.

What: 50 tech companies show off latest products.

Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 East Fowler Ave., Tampa.

How much: $10 for expo.

Info: tbtf.org/coolTECH.

'Net nerd,' Craigslist founder wants to recruit you for the 'common good' 06/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 9, 2011 8:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]