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He's Always Being Hit On

But, continues Milewski, "That's not his values -- he was never about money. Craig is a consistent guy."

Craig isn't the boss at the office. In a $4,000-a-month Victorian in the Inner Sunset, Jim Buckmaster, who at 6-foot-7 is a foot taller than Newmark, calls the shots.

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)

"It's better that way," says Craig, sighing. He admits that he wasn't a good manager. He's too nice. "We try to run the company on a group consensus, and a number of people approached me and said the situation needs help."

Buckmaster, whose résumé Craig spotted on Craigslist in 1999, was hired as a lead programmer. Buckmaster is the president and CEO, Craig the founder and chairman.

The two sit across from each other, sharing a room no bigger than 10 feet by 12 feet. Right now, Craig is glued to his 20-inch computer screen, reading DailyKos.com, a favorite site -- "I'm my own kind of Democrat," he says, "heavily influenced by Howard Dean" -- and switching over to Craigslist, checking out the blog he started nearly a year ago.

He checks his e-mail.

Craig has 16 e-mails in his inbox, Buckmaster 28,354. "Craig is a bit obsessive about e-mail," says Buckmaster, 42. "Funny thing is, he gets more e-mail than me."

The Craig of Craigslist takes it all personally.

He works seven days a week -- as one of four customer service representatives. "I've been disappointed," he says, "with the customer service operations of big companies." He gets more than 600 e-mails from users a day, not to mention dealing with five or six spammers a day, and, lately, with apartment brokers "trying to pull a fast one," posting ads in the no-fee requirement category of apartment listings.

He walks over to Canvas, the art gallery/cafe down the street. He checks his pedometer. From about 9 a.m. to 5:20 p.m., he's taken 3,809 steps. ("I have to do better," he says.)

Craig surveys the mostly young crowd typing on their laptops, all of them connected to the Internet, some actually on Craigslist. "I'd like the site to be everywhere," he says, "everywhere we are welcome."

Oct. 10 was proclaimed "Craigslist Day" by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. That same day, the documentary "24 Hours on Craigslist" -- where an Ethel Merman drag queen looks for a perfect backup band for her Led Zeppelin covers, where a young couple seeks a rabbi for their marriage -- had a premiere for its cast and crew. Craig makes a Hitchcockian cameo in the 80-minute film, with a glimpse of the back of his head. It's fitting. The film isn't really about him, but about the miracles and challenges and intrigue of a full day on his site.

It starts with a voice coming out of the darkness, asking, "Is there really a Craig?"

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