He's the famous Craig behind Craigslist. Self-proclaimed "geek" Craig Newmark, who turned an e-mail list among friends into one of the most visited sites on the Web, is today devoted to Craigconnects.org, an online community where people committed to various causes can meet, share information and work together to create positive change.
Craigconnects, which launched in March, consists of Mr. Newmark and seven independent contractors. The site had 127,593 page views and 79,059 unique visitors in its first few weeks, and more than 1,200 philanthropic ideas were submitted by users.
Since creating Craigslist, Mr. Newmark, who is based in San Francisco, had been providing advice, Web assistance and donations to a number of non-profits. By 2010, he had lost track of how many organizations he was working with, so he and one of his team members tallied them.
"I thought there were about 20 or 30. Turns out there were more than 100," he says. "I spoke to some people who are much smarter about non-profits and communications and they suggested I create an anchor page."
While the concept is somewhat vague, and the site's survival depends on his continued interest and funding, Mr. Newmark - one of the Web's most active and effective participants - says he's committed to sticking with it for the next 20 years.
And when someone with his track record is that committed, it's worth paying attention to him.
His business case, though, is a work in progress. But he is prepared to support the site out of his own pocket. And he's adamant that Craigconnects is not a funding entity. For now, it's his personal money pit, until an appropriate revenue model is found.
Mr. Newmark has already connected several groups that provide veterans and homeless people with job-search tools. He believes that the site will one day be a force in getting "almost everyone on the planet to connect for their own individual idea of what goodwill is."
Gwen Moran is co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).
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