Craigslist is a long-standing website that acts as an online classified advertising place that has a wide range of applications. For instance, Craigslist has listings for jobs, housing, meetups, gigs, resumes, services, and more. Though it was created early on in the history of the internet, it still remains a thriving place, and this is indicated that in 2018, “Craigslist” was one of the most searched-for queries on the internet. Currently, it has around 20 billion page views per month. Most people use this famous website without thinking twice about its history and origins. Therefore, this essay will address this lack of information by providing an overview of Craigslist’s story.
The arc of this journey began with Craig Newmark: a programmer. Newmark had seen a few websites doing positive actions on the internet in the early days of the web. This inspired him to make an email distribution list for friends in San Francisco that dealt with local events. He wanted to connect his friends and other people through events in San Francisco. The initial mailing list was launched at the beginning of 1995. Most of the postings at its outset were made by Newmark, detailing events for programmers and software developers (“Factsheet”).
This free non-profit mailing list began to blossom from word of mouth. In fact, the growth of the list grew rapidly in terms of both subscribers and postings. At this point, there was no moderation of the list, and soon users began to post other things than just event-related topics. Some individuals started to use Craigslist as a way to find employees and jobs. With this interest, users demanded that a “jobs” category be added, which was done. This made the mailing community grow at an even faster rate, and demand for more categories came again and again. This growth made the mailing list encounter some hiccups, but it resolved its glitches and limitations in June of 1995 (Boulton, Terynn).
By 1996, users wanted a web interface to effectively venture through postings. Thus, in that year, “craigslist.org” was registered and went live. According to Gizmodo, “Fast forward to 1998, Newmark was still enjoying a career as a software engineer, more specifically a hardcore java programmer. Craigslist was still a hobby to him, but a hobby with great perks. Through the site, he was getting himself invited to the best parties for geeks and nerds out there” (Boulton, Terynn). But with the rapid growth of Craigslist, Newmark’s attention became more and more focused on his beloved site.
This resulted in Newmark incorporating Craigslist as a private for-profit company in 1999. The website was growing so quickly that Newmark decided to leave his job as a software engineer. He now spent his full attention on Craigslist, though he wanted to not make the maximum amount of profit from the site, but rather run it on a “minimal profit” model in order to not scare away users and to keep the culture of the website intact (Boulton, Terynn).
Not surprisingly, the year 2000 was big for the website. By April of that year, Craigslist had nine employees that worked from Newmark’s apartment in San Francisco (“Archived page from Craigslist’s About Us”). Also, Jim Buckmaster joined the company as the lead programmer and CTO. According to an archived page on Craigslist, he, “Formerly served as lead programmer and CTO, contributing craigslist’s multi-city architecture, first search engine, discussion forums, flagging system, self-posting process, homepage design, personals, and best-of-craigslist” (“Jim Buckmaster—CEO & programmer”). At the end of 2000, Buckmaster was promoted to the position of CEO. Though Newmark continues to be a vital member of Craigslist to this day as a spokesmen, representative, and chairman, he has taken a more-or-less passive position compared to the early days of the website.
The legendary website Craigslist began as a mailing project in the seminal years of the internet to connect people to local events in San Francisco. Users soon demanded more from the mailing list, with added categories and a website to view all the content easily and efficiently. The growth of Craigslist was mostly due to word-of-mouth promotion, and it became a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Beginning as a non-profit, it is now a for-profit company that strives for minimal profit to allow users to enjoy the website without the hindrance of subscriptions and the like.
“Factsheet.” Craigslist. https://web.archive.org/web/20120805110958/http://www.craigslist.org/about/factsheet.
Boulton, Terynn. “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Craig From Craigslist.” Gizmodo, Gizmodo.com, 17 Sept. 2013, gizmodo.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-craig-from-cra-1262446153.
“Archived page from Craigslist’s About Us”. Craigslist. Archived from the original on June 20, 2000. Retrieved February 8, 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20000620192058/http://craigslist.org/aboutus.html.
“Jim Buckmaster—CEO & programmer”. Craigslist. Archived from the original on June 30, 2007. Retrieved September 6, 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20070630145737/http://www.craigslist.org/about/management.html.