As Homer Said: "Stupid Like A Fox"
By: Mathew Ingram
In a recent post, my friend Tony Hung of Deep Jive Interests has taken an audio interview that David "Everything is Miscellanous" Weinberger did with Craig Newmark of craigslist.org and concluded that Craig...
...was essentially just in the right place at the right time and lucked into what has become one of the most successful online communities around - one that could be worth as much as $500-million, depending on how you measure such things.
As Tony describes it, "Craig Newmark is no visionary. He's no guru. And he's no soothsayer. He's a guy who lucked into his business, and it continues to succeed in spite of his lackadaisical efforts at starting it and running it." Because he was early, he gained a "first mover" advantage, Tony argues, and therefore developed network effects that now make the site virtually unassailable. But what really seems to tick Tony off - as it does most of Wall Street, I'm sure - is craigslist's determination not to monetize itself:
I think craigslist's success is a lot more nuanced than Tony suggests. Yes, Craig was lucky with the timing - but I think that his and Jim Buckmaster's laser-like focus on the user, without being distracted by the lure of and banners and pop-ups and so on, has a lot to do with why the site has become as successful as it has, and has stayed there.
If craigslist had gone the same route everyone else has, the uniqueness of the service would have been lost and it would have floundered and failed. You can't separate one from the other.
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About the Author:
Mathew Ingram is a technology writer and blogger for the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper based in Toronto, and also writes about the Web and media at www.mathewingram.com/work and www.mathewingram.com/media.
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