craigconnects: Connecting the World for the Common Good

Craig's Blog

Over $4.1 Million Raised for Nonprofits

Folks, the CrowdRise #GivingTower Holiday Challenge was a really big deal and raised lots of money for nonprofits.

A total of  $4,141,131 was raised for charity. That includes all prize money (I gave $50k) and the money raised by all the charities, online and offline. That's 15.5x leverage on the prize dollars.


The Grand Prize winners are…

-1st Place: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust  with $364,979 raised

-2nd Place: Cure JM  with $287,328 raised

-3rd Place: Wildlife SOS  with $143,342 raised

-4th Place: Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee with $129,855 raised

-5th Place: Alfalit with $92,030 raised

There were lots of cash prize winners this year – 32 in total. You can take a look at all the winners here. A big congratulations to everyone who participated, and to the good folks who donated.

Did you participate in the Challenge? What was your experience? Thanks!



A 10 Minute Interview With Craig Newmark

Hey, I recently did an interview with 10 Minute Interviews, and they captured a snapshot of the life of a nerd. They asked about my upbringing as a total nerd, my biggest challenges with craigslist, and what a day in the life looks like… You can read the full interview below.


What was your upbringing like, and how did it shape who you are today?

It’s all a blur, but in retrospect I never had much instinct for social norms or convention. That’s to say I don’t go with the flow, since I had no idea what the flow was.

That combined with a severe literal streak meant that I took stuff like “treat people like you want to be treated” and unfortunately thought that life might normally be fair.

Worse, that resulted in behavior like showing off in class, resulting in a lot of social isolation. I was a total nerd, even wearing a plastic pocket protector and thick black glasses, taped together.

Nowadays, I figure I can help life be less unfair; that ain’t bad.

What were the biggest challenges you faced during the early years of craigslist?

(see below)

How did you first meet Jim Buckmaster, and was what it about him that convinced you that he was the right person for the job of craigslist CEO?

My biggest challenge was being a little too trusting and a little lazy, taking bad advice.

However, people helped me understand, end of ’99, that as a manager, I suck. Only took a year for me to get it, which is good, by startup standards.

A little earlier I found Jim’s resume on our site, hired him for senior tech work. After realizing my limitations I made him CEO. Among other areas, he’s much tougher-minded than me.

What are your goals with craigconnects?

In the short term, I want to help good people getting stuff done in causes I believe in. That’s in the here-and-now.

While doing so, I hope to learn for the long run, like my work with Veterans Affairs teaches me what might be done to fix Washington.

So in the long term, I want to help everyone connect, using the Net, to make things better fit all, to give everyone a voice.

From your perspective, what are the biggest issues currently plaguing the American political process?

Maybe the biggest issue is hard evidence showing the return on investment of lobbyist dollars for dollar returns in Washington. Sunlight Foundation created the Fixed Fortunes tool, which shows that one dollar invested in lobbying returns $760 in corporate benefits. (This is does not include “dark money” contributions.) Disclaimer: I’m on the board of Sunlight Foundation.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with craigconnects?

I get a lot of feedback that I’m helping get a lot of good get done.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I use my phone to get done what’s awaiting me from last night and from the east coast. Then I do more of that, maybe including writing, on my notebook.

Following that, might be a meeting, say with a charity, followed by the office, more work.

Maybe another meeting, then home, time with the missus, maybe TV or a book, finishing whatever work comes in.

What were your favorite TV shows when you were a child?

I have memories of Captain KangarooGilligan’s IslandThe Man from UNCLEThe PrisonerThe Outer Limits and I’m sure I’m missing a lot.

In your opinion, what are the top three Leonard Cohen songs?

Maybe “Anthem,” “In My Secret Life,” “Democracy,” lots more.

If you could only eat at one San Francisco-area restaurant for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Maybe Reverie Cafe, since that’s where I see neighborhood friends.

Are you superstitious?

Only for comic purposes.

If you could offer one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?

Listen to people, then listen more. (Keep treating people like you want to be treated, don’t change that.)

5 Women to Watch in 2015

Women had lots of gains in 2014, but not enough. And, as a nerd, I don't believe in settling, I believe people should be treated fairly. And that's still not happening. There's a gender gap in tech, in wages, and more…

It's really important to give women the credit they deserve. This past year, my team and I have recognized lots of women doing really good work, but there are still so many more who are creating real change.


Here are 5 women you'll want to watch for their good work in 2015:

(in no particular order…)

      1.  Roya Mahboob –

        Roya Mahboob's an Afghan entrepreneur and businesswoman. She founded and serves as CEO of the Afghan Citadel Software Company, a full-service software development company based in Herat, Afghanistan. She's among the first IT female CEOs in Afghanistan. Roya was named one of TIME Magazine's2013 100 Most Influential People in the World for her work building Internet classrooms in high schools in Afghanistan, and for Women's Annex, a multilingual blog and video site.

      2. Sheila Katz –

        Sheila Katz launched and scaled Ask Big Questions (ABQ) and is the VP of Social Entrepreneurship at Hillel International. The goal of ABQ is to change the world through better conversations. Sheila's an expert in facilitating reflective conversations and creating multi-channel technology campaigns that lead to in-person action.
      3. Reshma Saujani 

        Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and the former Deputy Public Advocate of New York City. Reshma has galvanized industry leaders to close the gender gap in STEM education and empower girls to pursue careers in technology and engineering. In 2010, Reshma became the first South Asian woman to run for Congress, promoting smarter policies to spur innovation and job creation. Advocating for a new model of female leadership focused on risk-taking, competition and mentorship, Reshma also authored the book, Women Who Don't Wait in Line.
      4. Debbie Sterling –

        Debbie Sterling is a female engineer and Founder of GoldieBlox, a toy company out to inspire the next generation of female engineers. She's made it her mission in life to tackle the gender gap in STEM fields. GoldieBlox is a book series and construction set that engages kids to build through the story of Goldie, the girl inventor who solves problems by building simple machines. Debbie writes and illustrates Goldie's stories, taking inspiration from her grandmother, one of the first female cartoonists and creator of "Mr. Magoo".
      5. Zerlina Maxwell 

        Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst, speaker, and contributing writer for,, and  She writes about national politics, candidates, and specific policy and culture issues including domestic violence and gender inequality. She has consulted with the United States Department of State to promote the use of social media by students in the West Bank and is a frequent speaker at colleges, universities, and organizations about feminism.

Who would you like to see added to this list? Thanks!

Resolutions of a Nerd

Hey, it's that time of year where people are making resolutions for 2015. I have resolutions year-
round, especially since, long term, I want to figure out how to give a voice, using the internet, to everyone on the planet. I'm a nerd, and I figure things should be fair.nerd-4

My resolution for 2015 is to:

      • Learn to throw my weight around, on behalf of the good guys

That includes:

      • Treating others how they want to be treated
      • Helping nonprofits who really have their boots on the ground raise awareness about their issues
      • Finding ways to encourage trustworthy news outlets
      • Continuing as Nerd-in-Residence (and that means helping out with veterans and milfam efforts)
      • Reminding people why it's important to give back

You'll see more over the next few months. What are your resolutions?

Knowing When to Keep Your Mouth Shut


Back in '77, I had recently taken a job at IBM Boca Raton, in the "advanced technology" department. It was beginning to dawn on me that I needed to be somewhat less nerdy in behavior, if not core, attitudes.

A few folks visited what was then Bell Labs, which had been responsible for a lot of seriously good tech for decades. The Bell people proposed a port of the UNIX operating system to our new minicomputer, the Series/1.

("Minicomputer" is a dated term, but this was the seventies, and I learned coding using punch cards anyway. "Punch card" is also dated, youngsters.)

UNIX was developed by the Bell people based on their work at the MIT MULTICS project, and the name is a pun. I'd studied UNIX a coupla years before, at Case Tech, since it was perceived as a really good example of software development and impressive new tech. It was written in the C programming language, developed by the same guys. That was new in itself, since normally operating system code was done in machine language. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying a bit.)

When our team returned from Bell Labs, they were pretty tepid about the idea, but I was asked for an opinion. I felt that we could do better, but that UNIX would be great for the Series/1. Maybe I mentioned that it was far superior than the official S/1 operating system, developed using what some call the "waterfall" approach.

[One of the most eloquent descriptions of "waterfall" software development by Scott Adams]

My approach was politically and socially clueless. I failed to realize that local management had made a major investment in the official operating system, not only financial but also their careers might've depended on the success of the software. My suggestion was a non-starter, and I kinda understood that I needed to grow in non-technical areas.

Sure, I coulda fought hard for some kind of joint effort with Bell Labs to migrate UNIX to the S/1. It probably woulda meant frequent commutes to New Jersey, a mixed blessing, since I'm … from Jersey. (Inside joke for fans of Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars, part of the Thrilling Adventure Hour.)

My take is that UNIX on S/1 would be a great success, given its existing reputation and legitimization by Bell Labs and the phone networks of the time.

That woulda had vast repercussions on the whole computer industry, since much of the subsequent industry was based on UNIX systems, particularly the earliest Internet (ARPAnet and Sun Microsystems). Sun and related servers powered much of the early Net, including about a year of craigslist.

UNIX influenced a lot of development, for example, the filesystem structure of and later Windows. A UNIX variant, Mach, powers Apple Mac and even iOS.

Much more importantly, Linus Torvalds decided that the world needed an open source, free version of UNIX, and went ahead and did it.

The result is Linux, which powers much of the current Internet, it's everywhere but not obviously so.

For that matter, Linux is the basis for Android, which runs most of the world's smartphones.

If the Bell Labs folks, with minor help from me, made S/1 UNIX a big deal, this would have disrupted this history in unpredictable ways. It's probably good that I was timid, and decided to learn un-nerdly social behaviors over the course of decades. (I can simulate normal social behavior, but observe my clock running out at about 90 minutes. Seriously.)

Instead, both a phone company in Jersey and one in Ann Arbor ported UNIX to the S/1, but years later, and it's rare to find someone who remembers the S/1, or even UNIX.

My path took me less technical for the most part, spending 11 years at IBM as a Systems Engineer, kind of a tech consultant for customers. That's a technical position, but not like a UNIX porting engineer. I never completely lost contact with what I was about, for example, I remember learning C in what amounted to a storage closet at IBM Detroit in '85 or so. (If you live in Detroit, that's the building on Nine Mile, where it hits Southfield and Northwestern.)

In '95 I learned newer programming languages, Java and Perl, to participate in the incipient dot-com industry, helping develop Home Banking for Bank for America, while starting something called craigslist.

Nowadays I do lightweight customer service, and a great deal of public service and philanthropy. I know enough tech to have a meaningful conversation with people, more than I need.

I guess I'm much better off taking the path I did. The world didn't need anyone to disrupt the industry, particularly the path of Linux. People do benefit from a mostly-free service (like craigslist), which helps put food on the table, in the short run, and in the long run, ain't bad to "do well by doing good."

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