Craigslist founder Craig Newmark explains why he chose philanthropy over an IPO

Business Insider spoke to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Read the full transcript below:

Craig Newmark: In my first year or two in San Francisco, a lot of people helped me acclimatise myself to the town.

They helped me understand what neighbourhoods were good and maybe where to shop. I got a lot out of it.

Early ’95, I decided I should give back, started a simple mailing list, it succeeded via word-of-mouth. I had to call it something at some point, was going to call it “San Francisco Events”.

Jim Edwards: How many people were on the email list at its height?

Craig Newmark: Well at that time, around 250 people. People around me though told me that I had invented a brand – Craigslist – they explained to me what a brand is, and I’m being literal here.

They were right, so that worked for a while. But by the time the end of ’98 came around, people helped me understand then that I needed to make it into a real company or it would fail.

I decided to monetise as little as possible, partially because of that Sunday school lesson: “Know when enough is enough.”

VCs and bankers at that point told me I should do the usual Silicon Valley thing and make some billions. But no-one really needs billions of dollars except to give away.

Jim Edwards: So you have no regrets about not doing the whole VC thing?

Craig Newmark: No, I’ve no regrets not doing my own IPO. I plan to give away a great deal more money to charity, I’ve already committed to do so, and trying to figure out how I – as an amateur philanthropist – I’m trying to figure out how I can do that most effectively given the realities of this time.

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