The History of Craigslist

Written by Phin Upham

Craig Newmark did what anyone would do when moving to a new city, he reached out to locals online in the hopes of finding a friend. He’d recently moved to San Francisco and was hoping to meet up with people through UseNet groups and MindVOX.

He took the concept of those chat programs and created a newsletter that he could send to others around him. He included social events and notices of job postings that were in the San Francisco area. Word quickly spread and his email list grew.

Newmark began fielding even greater volumes of responses from people using the list for postings unrelated to events, such as trying to fill technical positions. So Newmark added the “Jobs” category, which created a demand for even more categories. The list scaled to its full capacity, and the users lobbied Newmark to create a Web component. He released “” in 1996, running the site as a hobby while he focused on becoming a Java programmer.

Newmark incorporated the site in 1999 and ceased becoming a Java programmer to work on Craigslist full time. He ran the company out of his San Francisco apartment, where he had a payroll consisting of nine employees.

When Jim Buckmaster joined the group in 2000, he took on the role of CTO and lead programmer. Buckmaster brought the site to more cities, added a search function, created a system for discussions, brought in a flagging process to strike down bad postings, and changed some designs of the home page.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.