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Forbes® Best Business Mistakes: How Today's Top Business Leaders Turned Missteps into Success by Bob Sellers

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Chapter 21. JIM BUCKMASTER

CEO of Craigslist

Architect of Craigslist home page design

Dropped out of the University of Michigan Medical School

Jim Buckmaster responded to an ad on Craigslist looking for a programmer. The job was at Craigslist itself. Not only did he get the job, but 11 months later he was running Craigslist. That just might be the Internet equivalent of working your way up the corporate ladder by starting in the mailroom.

Of course, to call Craigslist "corporate" would be a stretch. Sure, the web site gets an estimated 50 million unique visits a month in the United States alone, and an estimated 20 billion page views worldwide, ranking it in the top 10 in the United States and top 22 globally [wiki per Compete.com on April 7, 2009]. But it is run by a mere couple dozen or so employees who cling to their goal of serving their clients' needs, not Wall Street's or Silicon Valley's expectations. Buckmaster says:

A lot of people over the years see our approach as being weird or unorthodox, but that doesn't mean that we've felt the pressure to conform to the way everyone else approaches running an Internet enterprise.

What is weird or unorthodox? Certainly not the concept. Described simply, Craigslist is a web site where classified ads are posted. But it is more than that. It's an online community with an attitude. The site touts its "relatively non-commercial nature, public service mission, and non-corporate culture."

Visiting the Craigslist site at www.craigslist.org is like ...

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