By @SimonCocking. We interviewed Craig Newmark to learn more about his philanthropic work, and his support of the Women Who Tech initiative.

Founder of craigslist and the Craig Newmark Foundation. Craig Newmark is a Web pioneer, philanthropist, speaker, and one of America’s most recognized nerds. He was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2013 he was named “Nerd-in-Residence” by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Innovation in recognition of his volunteer work with the department to enhance services to veterans and military families. In 2016 he created the Craig Newmark Foundation, a private foundation to promote philanthropy and civic engagement through a number of initiatives. 

What is your background briefly?

I’m an old school nerd, I figure I should treat people like I want to be treated, and that means being fair and standing up for people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or whatever.

I’ve had some luck in business, possibly related to persistence, maybe relentlessness.

Does it seem like a logical path to what you do now?

The WSC supports women entrepreneurs in tech, and beyond that, contributes to a new normal where gender in business will become unimportant.

1 min pitch for what you are working on now?

I’m actively working with Women Who Tech and the Women Startup Challenge and I recently joined the board of Girls Who Code. I also work with veterans organizations. It’s important to remind Americans that we owe veterans and their families a lot, and showing how we can better pay that debt.

Also, I’m supporting a lot of good journalism groups toward a new normal of good-faith, trustworthy journalism.

Why did you get involved with this initiative?

Supporting women in tech is a big deal. We need their perspective and talent if we’re really going to create the best products that people need. But only 10 percent of global investor money goes to women-led startups, despite studies showing that women-led tech companies deliver a 35 percent higher return than those led by men. We’ve got to close this gap.

What caught your eye / were you impressed with?

I’d been working with Allyson Kapin’s agency, Rad Campaign, on my philanthropic initiatives and realized she also was the founder of the nonprofit Women Who Tech. She pitched me the Women Startup Challenge idea to help address the lack of funding for women-led startups. They just expanded internationally and held their 5th Women Startup Challenge in London co-hosted by the office of Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Will it happen again, and if so what tips would you give to future applicants hoping to be successful?

Yes, there has been a lot of support for the Women Startup Challenge. It’s been hosted at Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, etc. They are also getting a lot of requests to host it across the US and internationally in Spain, Iran, Australia, etc. I hope to support more Challenges. While I’m a big ally, and can help use my social capital to promote women in tech, I’d rather they listen to the folks from Women Who Tech and other organizations rather than me doing a bad job of mansplaining.

Who are your sources of inspiration?

Leonard Cohen


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