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Craigslist Founder Chats with The Post

Craig Newmark, the founder of online classified site Craigslist, stopped by The Post today to proclaim his admiration and support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. And in case we weren't convinced of his conviction, Newmark proved it by showing off his Obama wristwatch with gold hour and minute hands ticking across the candidate's face.

So what does Newmark the Libertarian do for change you can believe in? Clean up negative Obama attacks that appear on Craigslist, for one. And he talks to a lot of people about Obama, writes about the candidate on his blog and even Twitters about his dedication to the campaign.

"Obama is the embodiment of civic participation," he said.

Newmark said he also likes Republican John McCain, but he would like to see the candidate cleanup some of the "bad lobbyists" in his camp.

A self-described nerd, Newmark's San Francisco-based listings site runs in 500 cities in 50 countries around the world and has become a popular free place for job searches, apartment listings and personals.

And that got us wondering, what does he think about the fact that his business has grown so much in popularity since it was formed 15 years ago, while ours - the newspaper biz - has seen a steady decline in classified and advertising. See the connection?

He admits his business is stealing a bit from the traditional print business, but "the magnitude is exaggerated and a bit of an urban myth," Newmark said.

He said the bigger problem is the pressure by investors to come up with bigger and bigger profit margins. And he assured us that after talking to "a lot of people," we'll figure things out with a business model that probably combines subscriptions online with conventional advertising.

Thanks.

Other interesting tidbits from the conversation: Newmark said he spends much of his time policing his Internet company's sites, looking for racists, misogynists and other bad people.

Craigslist won't, however, spy on their users' behavior and gather information about what they are buying and doing to sell to advertisers. And he's assured us after talking to a lot of important people at Google that they will continue to follow their mantra "Don't be Evil."

For more of Newmark's thoughts, check the blog tomorrow when we'll have video of our chat with the founder of Craigslist.

By Cecilia Kang  |  June 19, 2008; 5:24 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
Previous: Bringing Down the Volume of Loud Commercials | Next: Craigslist Founder Talks Newspapers, Obama


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