Craig’s List and Nerd Values

The last time the founder of Craig’s List visited San Jose was over 2 years ago to attend a science fiction convention.  Conclusion:  if San Franciscan Craig Newmark won’t drive an hour South more frequently than that, we need more things to do in San Jose to attract nerds.  Note to Convention Center boss Dan Fenton:  call the Star Trek convention organizers.

Craig is a self-proclaimed nerd with self-described nerd values:  do well, do good, and don’t sell out.  I’m going to adopt this motto even though I’m not a nerd – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Fellow blogger Kevin Bayley and I had coffee with Craig a few weeks ago in San Francisco, a few blocks from his home.  Craig is also a blogger and reader of San Jose Inside.

Craig’s List, the most successful community bulletin board on the planet, has been phenomenally successful for one overarching reason:  Craig monomaniacally focuses on customer service.  He works at least 6 and 1/2 days a week responding to comments and feedback.  He can’t remember the last vacation he took, unless you count his San Jose convention visit. 

If his co-workers are as dedicated as Craig, they will continue to eat the proverbial lunch of Bay Area newspapers.  I asked Craig about a report that Craig’s List takes $50 million annually in advertising from the Mercury News, Chronicle, and Contra Costa Times.  He said it was “guesswork” and grinned.  I take this to mean it’s roughly accurate and someday all reporters will be working for Craig’s List – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Media Notes:  Our site’s traffic and readers’ comments continue to impress.  Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold featured our online debate about San Jose’s future in his old style (i.e. printed on something called “newspaper”) column last Sunday.  Today, San Jose Inside blogger Tom McEnery will be on KGO (810 AM), 11 a.m. to noon discussing our site and other matters with Ronn Owens

Mea Culpa:  Last week, I wrote that the city of San Jose received a C plus from Governing magazine.  It’s actually a B minus.  I don’t know what’s worse:  admitting a mistake or admitting I re-read a Governing magazine article.


  1. Jude, we have all the nerds we can handle here already so we don’t need to attract more.  This is just one of the issues about the identity crisis of San Jose.  In L.A., you might have to fight traffic and smog but you have a very entertaining city and population that make it worth your while.  There’s nothing entertaining about this town or the people who live here to make fighting traffic and putting up with smog worth it.  It’s like a million worker bees who drive to work and then drive home, closing the garage door behind them because this town doesn’t offer enough reasons to get out and enjoy it.

  2. Got nerds?  What do nerds want?

    Where’s our “Battlebots” arena?
    Where’s our set of dirt tracks where you can go offroad race remote control cars?
    How about a really nice, upscale bowling alley?
    How about something Metreon-esque?

  3. Jude,

    When I was a kid, the difference between a B- and a C+ was the difference between honor roll and a grounding.

    But, alas, today we have grade inflation.

  4. Hey Marko, downtown San Jose has a bunch of things for the nerd to do as follows: tech, camera 12, the nightlife and hip hotel bars.

  5. When you say ‘call the star trek convention organizers”, you don’t seem to realize san jose already has the primary bay area convention:

    and has for years. and that it in fact hosted the worldcon in 2002 (which is probably when Craig came down, actually).

  6. Chuq,

    I suggest it as an additional convention.  San Jose could always use more.  We have a big tent to fill.

    By the way, if the we can’t bring the galaxy to San Jose, Craig’s List is going intergalatic.

    See following press release from Craig’s blog:

    Online Community Set To Leap Beyond Solar System

    craigslist users to be first to transmit internet postings into deep space


  7. If your re-reading Governing magazine maybe you are a nerd.  Not that theres anything wrong with that.

  8. Jude, you wrote:

    “Craig’s List, the most successful community bulletin board on the planet,”

    Don’t you now have to say “the most successful community bulletin board in the solar system”?