Craig Newmark of Craig's List: 5 Things I've Learned

Trust your customers.

In the beginning, my idea was to run a site about events in San Francisco. Almost everything else came from user suggestions. For instance, after my first two months, people started suggesting “jobs” and “stuff for sale” in addition to events.

So I learned that you need to listen to customers to find out what’s really needed. In a lot of corporate cultures, people forget they are dealing with other people.

I’m a believer in open source.

It is often higher in quality and more secure than proprietary software. At Charles Schwab, I recommended Windows deployment because of its potential for security architecture. The thing is, that didn’t work out. There are good people at Microsoft, and maybe they’ll solve some of the Windows security problems with Vista. But meanwhile, we have Firefox, where stuff gets fixed painlessly.

The Internet facilitates innovation.

The Internet is a disruptive technology. That’s a good thing because it encourages collaboration. It is a democratizing force.

Entry barriers for online businesses are lower now.

Servers and bandwidth are cheaper. People with good ideas can do something without considerable investment. However, if Congress reneges on net neutrality, that could interfere with people’s ability to innovate or to express alternative views.

Net neutrality is important to me.

It’s a principle for everyone to have an equal voice. Without it, small companies will have to pay extra broadband fees to compete for customers against bigger rivals. Suppose you call your local pizza shop. Instead of getting Joe’s Pizza right away, you get a message saying, “We’ll connect you to Joe’s Pizza in a minute, but if you want, we can connect you to Pizza Hut right away.” It’s unfair. Citizens made a deal with the telecoms by saying, “Use our rights of way and airwaves to make a lot of money, but we expect a little bit in return.” The telecoms are now saying, “No, we’ll just take what we want.” I’m seeing people attack net neutrality. My fear is that as the bad guys fight back with disinformation campaigns, it threatens our republic.

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