Craigslist founder comes to Columbia

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | 5:25 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA— Craig Newmark turned a hobby into a worldwide Web site when he created Craigslist. Newmark will speak at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase on April 6.

"We were looking for someone with some recognition,” Business Showcase committee co-chair Rob Quinn said. “And although Craig might not have immediate recognition, Craigslist does.”

Newmark's talk is planned to be a fireside chat that will contain information on how he innovated social networking and his work with Craigslist. Lili Vianello, Business Showcase committee co-chair said, “Since it is a fireside chat format it will be guided by the questions that are asked that day.”

Newmark said he makes a living in customer service, which he described as a public service. “I might as well just do what feels right. I am trying to help people who have hope of getting big things done.”

He hadn’t even imagined starting something like Craigslist as it began.

“I started a simple events list,” he said of the founding of Craigslist. “And I do a lot of listening. And I acted on the feedback I received.”

This feedback included hearing he was not the best manager. “People who are good at starting something are sometimes not good at making it continue. In 2000 or so, people were kind enough to help me gently understand how I suck as a manager. I’m no good at it, no better than average,” Newmark said.

Newmark translated this ability to listen to others into a Web site that has brought him much success. Vianello is also excited for Newmark’s visit. “I am sure I am going to learn from him,” she said.

She also hopes that people can learn from his insights on new media and what direction media is taking.

There are still tickets available to attend the Business Showcase, including club seating available for $99.99 that allows you to meet and visit with Newmark. General tickets are available for $34.99 by registering online. Newmark will also be featured in a booth at the showcase following lunch, where people may speak with him.

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