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Fortune Magazine -- With sites in 50 countries, Craigslist is the undisputed leader in online classifieds, despite a stubbornly anticapitalist culture. Fortune' s Matthew Boyle took your questions to Buckmaster, 44, to learn what's happening at the Web site that's rocked the ad world and transformed the way we clean our garage.

When and what was your first transaction on Craigslist? A friend told me about Craigslist.

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I was hired as lead programmer. What advice would you give to a budding web entrepreneur? Web ventures are best run by techies. Keep things simple. Be patient. Focus on user feedback. Don't take outside money if you can do without it. How have you overcome any adversities that have been thrown at you during your career?

I kept quitting in the face of adversity until I found something I loved doing, after which point all obstacles became surmountable. I quit medical school and a few jobs. If you're in a job you don't like, almost anything can seem insurmountable.

Jim Buckmaster, the programmer-turned-CEO of online classified-ad site Craigslist answers your questions and a few of our own.

Conversely, if you are in a job you like, obstacles start to look small. At Craigslist it feels like we're doing something positive for society.

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If you didn't work at Craigslist, what else would you be doing careerwise? I would be building a platform for user-generated governance UGG as a replacement for our flailing "dot-gov" sector.

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It's utterly divorced from serving the public. Or maybe I'd take a year off and go backpacking.


At some point, doesn't Craigslist have to be more aggressive about scaling revenues? I understand you're small, nimble and profitable, but your business is pretty easily duplicated.

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Or do you think you can sustain your business based on user loyalty? Financial metrics aren't something we focus on; they're a pleasant side effect if we manage to do a good job by our users. We track views to measure the usage of the site. We also look at the of thank-you notes from users who have found their entire lives on our site - from spouse to house, job, furnishings, cat, dog, friends and a social life. Do you plan to make Craigslist a public company?

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It seems like a lot more trouble than it's worth. We're having too much fun to exit, but we will go quietly when the nanobots are ready to assume control. What is your attitude toward the seedier side of Craigslist - the often explicit personal seeking casual sex? Do you see this as an integral part of the business, or as an embarrassment? Craigslist users are pretty sophisticated and don't tend to view sexual relations between consenting adults as seedy, at least compared to what goes on in the White House and Congress or the boardrooms of many large corporations.

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Are there any plans to expand the real estate section of Craigslist and target the broker listings now on Multiple Listing Systems MLS? We don't go out of our way to target new businesses; our hands are full right now handling user requests.

We'll add more cities soon, as there are lots of requests coming in. We are also working on creating local language s. And although our hope is to always remain a small company, we are actively looking for more good techies.

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How do you generate excitement and awareness about Craigslist in a city like Stockholm, where most people don't know about it? We've relied exclusively on word of mouth.

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I hear, though, that Stockholm is very nice; perhaps I should go and drum up interest personally. What part of Craigslist gets the highest traffic? Does it change depending on the city? Our "for sale" section has the highest traffic, followed by housing, jobs and personals. Our New Orleans site took off after Katrina. Usage went up by 10, percent overnight. Initially the site was used to find missing persons.

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Then ride sharing. And later thousands of offers of employment came in from all over the U. Where do you see Craigslist in five or ten years? I would expect lots more of the same, plus incremental improvements based on user requests. In ten years we may be approaching the Singularity [a state when machines become smarter than humans], in which case all bets are off.

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After focusing its online classified efforts outside the U. How will you handle this new competition? We operate with a public-service mentality such that we don't think in terms of competition. That really saves me a lot of grief. During the dot-com boom, we were derided for our noncompetitive approach, but of the hundreds of Web companies founded between andwe're one of only a handful that survived and prospered. Doesn't eBay's 25 percent equity stake in Craigslist pose a potential conflict?

Those issues are obviously a concern, but our first instinct is to trust eBay ChartsFortune to take the high road. That depends on what you find bizarre, but husband-for-hire - the person meant everything but the sex - pet astrology and spare parts for a time machine struck me as odd.

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There are lots of funny ones in our best-of section on the Web site. Tesla Motors. Electric cars seem like a great way to address our energy woes, since we have so much excess overnight generating capacity. I recently bought a BlackBerrywhich is a discontinued model that has the lowest SAR [specific absorption rate, the rate at which radio-frequency energy is absorbed by the body] of any cell phone.

Each year [my companion] Susan and I spend a week out of cell phone coverage with friends and an ostrich named Huey on an organic farm called Emandal on the Eel River in Mendocino County. By Matthew BoyleFortune writer. Now he's CEO. Questions for Martha Stewart.

Your name:. The man who brought organics to Main Street. From the August 6, issue. Buckmaster posted his on the site eight years ago. ZIP: 57225

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