Craig Newmark Advises Internet Start-ups

Question: How would you counsel companies just starting out?

Newmark:    I tell people to recognize their core values.  One core value which everyone seems to share is just the notion that you should treat people like you want to be treated and then follow through with that everyday.  Part of that means customer service taking it seriously, not just lip service and that’s something I figure everyone should be doing, not just talking about customer service but following through to the extent you can.  That’s one reason why either I’m founder, I make a living doing customer service.  I’ve gone down half time now because customer service can take a lot out of you and particularly when you’re moderating discussion boards.

Question: What are the growth areas you are following?

Newmark:    There are some new, there are some technology areas which should see a lot of interest and excitement given the new presidency.  One is the area of currently available alternative power generation.  For example, there’s some technologies right down the shelf ready to be deployed in large numbers.  For example, wind power and also some forms of solar energy particularly solar thermal, because, as far as I could tell, the manufacturers just can’t make this equipment fast enough so there’s a lot of potential of hiring involved in all that.  You know, I spent 10 years in Detroit, I was back recently and I realized that in that part of Michigan there’s a lot of people who know how to make stuff and there’s a lot of factory capacity and that could be part of the solution as opposed to problem.  And there’s a lot of technology relating to, say, wireless and mobile devices which has a lot of potential.  Our phones are becoming smarter and smarter and they are becoming internet devices, which is a way to better distribute access to the internet to people everywhere, particularly, since if we want to be part of the new economy and if you want your voice heard in Washington or elsewhere, you may need to be connected.  And that’s addressing some of the digital divide in this country between rich and poor.  On the other hand, of course, the mobile devices are only in some respects exaggerating the digital divide which is generational.  Throughout most of the world, mobile devices, that’s going to be how people connect to the net and so the digital divide worldwide, which is a matter of developing nations versus developed nations, I think mobile devices are going to play a big role.  Globally speaking, mobile devices, wireless technologies will be a way to let’s address the digital divide in the whole bunch of ways and there are people in a lot of countries who are using mobile devices, for example, with texting to address economic issues.

The Craigslist founder says living your values is critical to long-term success.

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