Almost everyone knows of Craigslist. If you live in a major city, it is where you'd go to find your next job, apartment, used car, or even a band member. But just how much do you really know about the service itself?
People often wonder if there really is a Craig behind this industry giant. Well, wonder no more! The founder and namesake of this site is Craig Newmark. Before founding Craigslist, Craig's background included software engineering. He founded the service in 1995, and its design is still pretty similar to its look from back in the 90s.
According to an interview with Craig Newmark with Inc.com, Craigslist's humble beginnings had to do with two events that email groups were started around: a technology-based meet-up called Anon Salon and an event called Joe's Digital Diner. Joe's Digital Diner meet-up focused on the emerging use of multimedia technology. About a dozen people would gather around a table, discussing the latest in multimedia over spaghetti and meatballs. As Craig automated the email list, he began to add job listings related to the group and apartments.
Craigslist has a well-known subsection called Missed Connections. It was popular for many years as a place to make a post about someone you might have seen on the subway, at a café, and so on. For whatever reason, posters didn't get to talk to the people they saw at the time, so posters could announce their interest through a Missed Connections posting. According to one story, someone actually met their father for the first time this way!
The story goes that the Missed Connections poster had never met their dad. All they had was the father's name and the high school he went to as clues to go on. The poster put up a listing in the Missed Connection section in the town of their dad's high school. Someone responded with the dad's address, and the poster wrote their dad a letter. A phone call was made, they eventually met, and the poster even got to meet their siblings.
A lot of the items for sale or services offered that are prohibited by Craigslist make obvious sense. You can't sell firearms, ammunition, drugs, and things of that nature, for example. You also can't provide services that exploit confidential information, and you can't provide people with illegal animals or endangered species. You also cannot set up a date for your horse. If you have a prize horse, according to this partial list partial list of goods, services, and content prohibited on Craigslist, you cannot offer a "stud service." (Sorry if you were expecting Craigslist to be a Tinder for horses?. . .)
You might think that Craigslist is just available in your city, state, or country. In actuality, as of 2012, it is available in over 700 cities and 70 countries. The company started in San Francisco, but over the years it has clearly become a worldwide phenomenon. Nice job, Craig!
Apartment listings, new job offers, used car sales: all of these postings seem relatively normal. But because people are people, Craigslist has seen more than its fair share of downright bizarre offers. One of the most hilarious postings was sailboat offered for free. The catch? It's stuck in a pool. It turns out someone's grandfather missed being out on the open water. So, to approximate that ocean feel, he had a crane drop the boat into his swimming pool. If you could get the boat out, it was yours, free of charge. As unusual as that post was, it might not hold a candle to the 40 Amish wax figures (and a dog) that were once on offer.
The Lumineers have sold tons of albums, done massive tours, and received nominations for everything from Billboard Music Awards to Grammys. Their start was quite a bit humbler, though, when founders Wesley Shultz and Jeremiah Fraites made the move from New York to Denver. When they arrived, they placed an ad with Craigslist and landed cellist Neyla Pekarek. She became an integral part of their massive success until she left the group in 2018 to focus on her solo career.
For many years, Craig Newmark had a separate philanthropy-related endeavor called Craig Connects. In 2015, he switched that over to Craig Newmark Philanthropies. Along with helping to fund tech-related non-profits and make computer science more ethical, he continually gives large sums of money towards journalism programs. In 2018 alone, he gave $20 million to CUNY Journalism School, as well as another sizable donation to help a non-profit start-up focusing on investigative journalism.
When most people think of the ultra-wealthy, they tend to think of lavish spenders who always keep their name in the press. Craig Newmark bucks this stereotype, usually staying below the radar despite being absolutely wealthy. Forbes estimates Craigslist's worth to be around at least 3 billion dollars. That makes Craig worth around $1.3 billion (which Forbes says is a conservative estimate) from owning about 42% of the company.
Craigslist has long been a perennial favorite among users for its simplicity and all-around go-to vibe. With people now using offer services for housing and sites like OKCupid dominating the online dating scene, competitors are starting to finally catch up. Forbes reports that in February 2017, it saw a dip in users by about six million compared to the year prior. The site is still #1 in our hearts, though.