In Tim O'Reilly's Work on Stuff that Matters he elaborated on three criteria that constitute "stuff that matters" for his readers:

  • Work on something that matters to you more than money.
  • Create more value than you capture.
  • Take the long view.

A number of folks where surprised when I announced that I was joining craigslist back in July but it's an organization that I really admire. Having been there about 6 months now, I can definitely say that it's a job that matters based on Tim's thinking and my own.

Every time I meet someone and tell them where I work, their reaction is quite positive. They've had a good experience with craigslist, like the service, love the philosophy, and so on. Craigslist matters ordinary people--not just technology nuts.

Similarly, I know that we create more value than we capture. The majority of our service is free and usage seems to be growing all the time. People I talk to get such good responses with craigslist classifieds (compared to, say, newspapers) that I know we're giving people more than their money's worth.

As for taking the long view, I think being a non-public company helps that a lot. I've rarely thought about what "the next quarter" will bring. It's quite a contrast from my years at Yahoo. When we're discussing technology infrastructure, I'm always trying to think ahead a year or two (or more). But the day to day ups and downs just don't feel as important the way we operate. I like that.

All in all, I've been very happy with the change and am glad that Tim posted something that helped me to explain what I like about it.

Posted by jzawodn at January 11, 2009 08:05 AM

Reader Comments
# Gustavo Duarte said:

It's good to hear about your personal experience. I think Craigslist is great, it easily qualifies as something that matters imho. They have helped me many times and never asked for anything in return. It was puzzling at first.

I'm a big fan and thought it was cool when I read you had moved there. Would you say that this has had an impact on your 'base happiness'?

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I think it is the main reason I blog. I want to try to help out a little bit and do something that has a positive impact on people's lives, even if it's tiny. I cannot say the ultimate results of my paid work are making the world a better place, and that sucks.


on January 13, 2009 11:16 AM
# Chris said:

Hi Jeremy,
I'm a frequent reader and fan of your site here. I'm also a sys-admin for Our CEO Scott just sent around that article by Tim and it struck a lot of us here because we feel that we are working towards all 3 of the bullets you have listed too. Glad to hear that working at Craigslist is as awesome as we'd imagine it to be. It really is great working at a place where the daily sales aren't as important as the lives you affect and the change you might be bringing to the world.(not that we dont like making money)
Anyway, like reading this blog a lot, and hope to see more technical posts. There aren't enough sys-admin blogs out there that entertain and inform like this one.

- Chris at meetup

on January 14, 2009 01:51 PM
# Dom Derrien said:

Being a follower of your blog for quite a long time, I appreciate that you read the same point of View I have regarding how leading a professional career ;)

Take care,
A+, Dom

on January 16, 2009 12:04 PM
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