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He's Always Being Hit On

In fairness, not all postings are like this. The "wash, DC" site, after all, has more than 300,000 visitors a month, 80,000 classified ads a month and 4,000 new job listings a month -- adding up to more than 40 million page views a month, though keep in mind that folks post and re-post ads.

Like the Village Voice in New York and the SF Weekly and SF Bay Guardian in San Francisco, for example, publications like The Washington Post and the City Paper are facing stiff competition on classified ads. Those ads have been "a destination" for readers of the City Paper, says Sheri Simon, the weekly's classified sales manager. Still, how do you face off with a site that is updated by the second, 24 hours a day?

Craig Newmark isn't the boss at the Craigslist office in San Francisco. That title goes to Jim Buckmaster, right, Craigslist president and CEO. (Randi Lynn Beach For The Washington Post)

For one, the City Paper's Web site is moving toward daily updates, says Simon, who also surfs Craigslist, if only to look at the competition.

The name Craig is in honor of his great-grandmother, Cecilia. Joyce, Newmark's mom, says she wanted a name starting with a "C."

He was born on Dec. 6, 1952. Lee, his father, died of cancer when he was 13. He was that kid in Geometry who raised his hand too many times.

Then as now, "The people I identify with ethnically, if you can put it that way, are the nerds." He continues, with no trace of self-pity, "If you're a nerd, no matter where you are, no matter where you come from, you're a nerd."

He recalls a particular day in college, sitting in the school cafeteria, at a table, alone, reading the classic S.I. Hayakawa book "Language and Thought in Action." It was October 1972. He was at Case Western Reserve University near Cleveland, studying computer science. "I remember realizing, it couldn't be that everyone else had a communication problem. It had to be me."

For years he worked as a systems engineer for IBM. Spent six years in Boca Raton, Fla., 10 in Detroit, one in Pittsburgh. Then, on a whim, he moved to San Francisco. "It seems to have the right atmosphere," Newmark says of the city. "It's hard to define." He spent some time at Charles Schwab, as an "Internet evangelist" working alongside an "Internet pioneer," Darek Milewski.

Both men preached about the Internet -- how this medium would transform the brokerage business -- to empty pews. So they left.

"The thing that really fascinated me about Craig was his passion. Everything was a priority," says Milewski, now director of information security at Oracle. He is most impressed by Craigslist's business model. Craig, Milewski says, could be an instant millionaire if he sold the company, or if he tried to capitalize on it more: charge for, say, half the postings?

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