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Craig Newmark at Inman Real Estate Connect

By: 23 July 2008

Craigslist is arguably the No. 1 real estate site with real estate-oriented page views in the “low billions per month.” So it makes sense to have founder Craig Newmark address the first day of the Inman Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco.

Newmark never reveals very much about the service, humbly referring to himself as just one of the site’s customer service reps — even as Silicon Alley Insider estimated his net worth as possibly $5 billion. I find him to be really funny, and he interestingly discusses a wide range of topics (the Constitution, Israeli-Arab peace, etc.). But for tea leaf readers out there, here is what he is saying.

The site now has 26 people. Sixteen are engineers. It runs on a couple of hundred servers. “Ninety-six percent (of users are) coming from the U.S. Most of the rest is in Canada. We are in 567 cities,” he said.

He also argued that “the technology is sophisticated. The hard part is getting the site policed to deal with the bad guys, or the innocent people who want to get attention. The site gets 1billion postings a day.”

Fees for job ads are charged in 11 markets and make up the bulk of Craigslist revenues. “We are discussing charging for job postings in several other cities,” he said. NYC brokerages are also charged.

The key issue with the site is the enormous amount of spam that hits it. If more fees are introduced, it would mostly be to scare away spammers. Newmark also said he was open-minded about a suggestion that he charge more for rich media URL inclusion in ads — a major sore point for many brokerages, which constantly see their ads cut out.

He also said the site will work harder to warn the Craigslist community about changes in policy, rather than just cutting them off, as it does now.

While the site remains resolutely low tech to the common eye, Newmark said there has been some experimentation with thumbnail photo postings of used bicycles in San Francisco. That might be extended. He also sees a greater role for mobile devices, but he doesn’t think it is very good today, and maybe won’t be good enough for perhaps two years.



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