Q & A with Double Alumnus Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark

Case Western Reserve University double alumnus Craig Newmark (CIT ’75, GRS ’77, computer science) is best known for founding the website craigslist in 1995. A self-declared nerd with a broad range of interests and passion projects, he has also been actively involved in the nonprofit sector for several years. Currently, he dedicates much of his time working to support others through Craig Newmark Philanthropies, founded in 2016. His mission is “to support the people who fight to protect the values that America aspires to—fairness, opportunity and respect.”

Craig Newmark Philanthropies generously helped launch CWRU’s Women in Tech initiative with an initial grant of $100,000 in 2018 and has provided ongoing support ever since. We were honored to interview Newmark via Zoom to talk about his alma mater, the tech industry and his goals as a philanthropist. Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

Outside of your computer classes, what particular coursework do you wish you would have taken during your time at CWRU?

Back then, I would have included conventional music and art appreciation courses, and broad courses in European culture. I also wish I would have explored women’s studies to gain more empathy for other people.

If you could talk to your recently graduated self about what was to come, what would you say?

I’d tell myself to be a better listener and that I was responsible for my own career. Often in corporations, especially larger ones, your boss is supposed to help shape your career. But that doesn’t always happen, so the responsibility falls on you. You own your own branding, your own image.

Your philanthropic work focuses a lot on women’s issues and the gender gap. Why or how has supporting women in tech, women veterans and women start-ups been such an important focus for you and your team?  

In terms of emotional investment, it’s just the notion that people should be fair with each other. Pragmatically, I’ve seen that in journalism and in protecting the country, women have often taken on greater roles than men. Many of the people on the vanguard of fighting disinformation are women, and one could argue they’re doing a better job of it than men in that space.

You’ve been very generous in supporting the Women in Tech initiative at CWRU. If you could give those students one piece of advice as they embark on future internships or careers, what would it be?

Always treat people the way you want to be treated. We all learn that somewhere—I learned it in Sunday school—and we shouldn’t forget about it when it’s convenient.

For more information about the strategic priorities and ongoing work of Craig Newmark Philanthropies, please check out the full video interview here.