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Why is Craigs List so successful?

 11:29 pm on Jun 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is it the simplicity of design and focus on content?

Is it simply first-mover advantage?

Is it because of the value it extends to users and listers?

Why do you think Craig's List has been so successful?

It has recently been pointed out the there will never again be another Craig's List. Is that an accurate prediction in your opinion?

Have you used Craigs List? Has it worked for you?



 11:35 pm on Jun 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is it because of the value it extends to users and listers?

Yes, it's successful because it's free and provides value to its users. Look at FreeCycle--another successful one. It's free, and has value.

A lot of sites have done well with a free-to-pay type of business plan: offer a free service that's very valuable and get people hooked--and then start to charge a fee (or not?) later on.

There may never be another Craig's List per se, but that's one particular niche/type of site. There are plenty of other niches.


 11:45 pm on Jun 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

San Francisco, where it all started, is preternaturally communal.

Thus ends another brilliant insight, eh Chicago? :-P


 12:38 am on Jun 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the feedback.

I would never call someone brilliant unless I meant it.


yep ~ organic, free, and inherently local.

local by the locals as you say Webwork.

WebmasterWorld has similar organic and communal characteristics.

>>get people hooked.

Yes, but for Craigs List you are talked about a significant amount of time in the marketplace livin off of scraps. ~free and scale = users =.

And for similar organic approaches, a la Google, you are talking abount standford incubation and significant revenue lose prior to becoming mainstream.

getting people hooked ain't easy. in fact, it is the mother load.

>> There are plenty of other niches

Niches are full of potential but by nature lack levels of scale. Niches will also have to mature slowly and grow organically and yet will face significant competition from horizontal players.

My experience with Craigs List has been very positive. I even hear that you can't find an appartment in NYC unless you use craigs list - they move that quick. Although it has largely been a big city phenomina, particularly in the west. We still use Craigs list for jobs and the resume come flooding in. Free. we even sold internet marketing packages on it, now that i think about it.

eBay has there hands on them now and they are starting to monetize categories for postings (like jobs) in certain cities. so the craigs list that we knew may be soon gone. we know google has changed.

what is your experience?


 12:53 am on Jun 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

We still use Craigs list for jobs and the resume come flooding in. Free.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't it charge for job listings in some of the big cities? I'm pretty sure they do in some if not all of the California cities, and here in the East I believe they were going to start in some of the larger markets as well.

I did the math once just using San Francisco's job listings, and they bring in many 000's a day in that single city alone. Of course it's probably their biggest city, but several other cities are beginning to rival it.

The main problem I've seen is the bad that comes with the territory of running a free community site. It's a spammer's paradise, and I would imagine they have several full time staff deleting posts. They have a "flag spam" button but since it seems almost a majority of the listings in some ways fall under that category I doubt it works very well.

I've heard that bots spider the site so often that it's possible to get the g-bot visiting a link from a post within a few hours.


 12:56 am on Jun 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

yes, jobs is the first main category from what i understand that they started to monetize. it was in a few select cities only to start. chicago has been free.

this monetization is new though. it has taken nearly a decade.

good points you make.


 2:00 am on Jun 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

there will never again be another Craig's List. Is that an accurate prediction in your opinion?

Another craig's list, in the same juggernaut form...not likely.

But, lets not count out the large media companies that are just starting to enter. Tribune, Knight Ridder, etc. All these companies have the resources, financial and cross marketing mediums, to create competition here. Especially as Craigslist goes more commercial and less communal. I suspect with the king of online commercial, ebay, as their new partners we will see more and more revenue models intertwined.

I don't believe these media companies will create something to the scale we see with Craigslist, but they will not go quietly into the night while they are losing ground to the free classifieds.


 6:16 pm on Jun 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

We use CL for job ads exclusively in SF. At $75 per, it's the best value by far. I just checked 2 categories arbitrarily and they're averaging 70 listings per day per category. With 25 categories (25 x 75 x 70 = 131K), that's a nice chunk of daily change. Heck, even one listing per category per day would gross 450K anually.


 6:23 pm on Jun 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think what Craigslist does better than just about anyone else is community.

Nothing that Craigslist does is technically difficult. It's a glorified bulletin board. They don't advertise. They have a staff of (i think) 12 people managing billions of page views per month.

But what they have been able to recreate is the coffee shop bulletin board feel - a community resource with minimal commercial intrusion. Everthing about this site screams - we are just here to provide a community resource. Craigslist is the cosmic opposite of Adsense financed scraper sites.

I think what makes Craigslist special is not the buying and selling - it's the community tools like Missed Connections (a service that allows you to post something like "You were the girl in the blue hat at the 16th and Mission bart station." Believe it or not, it makes for interesting reading, and these types of features make craigslist an every day site - not just a site that you go to when you need to buy or sell something.

So unparalleled community, below (traditional) market prices for things like apartment listing, dating, job posting, and a fanatical user base that is encouraged by the non-commercial feel.

And now that they have built the community, they can do anything they want.


 9:21 am on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting discussion.

What do you guys think of a niche craigslist like site targeted specifically at an ethnic minority here in the United States. Such as the hispanic community or asian community.

Talking about ebay attempting to get their feet in to this field.

Check out www.kijiji.com - its a ebay owned sub, they seem to want to take over the world here : ) with exception of craigslist occupied area, since they are a family and all.

The funny part is.. check out www.loquo.com or www.gumtree.com. They have all became part of the kijiji arm.

I believe the idea is that ebay is afraid of these sites. After all, their emergence naturally cut into ebay's business model. I won't say ebay is scared to death of it, but they are paying attention to these sites.

Imagin Craigslist combined with a IYP type of function within the site, now thats a giant local site.


 5:16 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just don't see how Craigslist can ever become more than a community type site without losing its following.

With Ebay running a few of their shares now, I'm sure there are people who would love to commercialize a lot of aspects of CL. But I think they also know that it wouldn't work as well if it wasn't what it is now.

They can't add business related information or advertising without their base screaming bloody murder. I doubt they could even effectively add such material if the community didn't mind.. there's just no fit for it that wouldn't disrupt the kind of ongoing community conversation that the site seems to be.


 5:19 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting stuff wantfieldh.

And certainly if anyone had the capital to forge forward with this strategy it is ebay. The potential there is awesome.


Yea, then there is the Judy's Book or Insider Pages model. Check those out. Yellow Pages by your friends concept.


 5:21 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

classifieds is the future ....



 5:27 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)


Do you know any other site on webmaster that pays attention to craiglist type of sites. If I would like to pay attention to craiglist type of sites, what other readings can I follow?




 5:31 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

One thing I don't understand about craigslist.. is that its business model is really screwing everyone up without helping itself out too much. I guess its similar to the open source mentality. Which may I add, its good for the community.

I read somewhere that craigslist gets about say.. 10million in revenue, divded up with about 20 employees ain't too bad. But they are costing local newspapers 40-60 million in ad revenue which I won't say its an exaggeration.

So now they are trading 10 million for 60 million.. What other business model can it follow to make them a 100 million dollar company? or maybe Mr. Craig doesn't care..


 6:14 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just don't see how Craigslist can ever become more than a community type site without losing its following.

If done in a non-intrusive manner (say a subtle sponsored by link e.g. top right corner of your current webpage) or a manner wherein CL is only monetizing aspect which are used by organizations rather than individuals (say...job listings) this will have little or no effect on its following. CL only has to tweak their model ever so slightly to make a boat load of revenue, and they can do so without offending their base - at least 95% of their base.

One thing I don't understand about craigslist.. is that its business model is really screwing everyone up without helping itself out too much. I guess its similar to the open source mentality.

You're right about that. The founder Craig Newmark is much more about the mission than the money. He still spends half his days filtering through email complaints himself. His business card says something like "Founder and Customer Service Representative". So yes, he is the worst kind of enemy for a big-for-profit company like the Media organizations. His focus is first on the mission and then probably a few other hundred things, then oh yeah lets make enough money to cover my humble lifestyle.


"Newmark, who rode public transportation to the AP office on Thursday, said he already has all the riches he needs. Still, he says, "sometimes I've winced when I thought about how much money I've walked away from.""

Itís pretty tough when you are up against someone who has a completely different set of rules and values. I like it, as it forces the Media companies to innovate or be marginalized.


 6:39 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

HE's sick... : )


 6:50 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Didn't he say he was going to go for that community journalist deal? he hope to have armies of volunteer journalist hunting down real stories behind what the newspaper shows...

Oh yeah, by the way, sorry for the double post, my thoughts dont' come together all at once.

I have a question about local search. With the big hype about local search... what kind of revenue models are here for local searches?

Sure we have the IYP with their sponsor links, google, yahoo local.. again wtih their sponser links. So if thats all it is.. is that enough?
Craiglist would be considered local right?

So all I see here is basically: Yellowpages/directories, local search engin, classified.

Frankly, IYP took the yellowpages part. Local search engin taken by yahoo and goolge. Classified taken by craigslist/ebay. Vertical sites like dating site, hotel sites, jobs sites taken long time ago..

What else is left in this industry? other than really special niche.. lets say .. online tractor classified.

SO back to craig - I agree that they won't piss off their user if they just let ads sink in little by little. It eventaully will happen, afterall, craig only owns 50% of the share.

What do you guys think a online classified site should contain other than whats on craigslist already? What if its combined with yellow pages?
Online commentry? I heard of a Korean website which basically allow user to write articles and stuff on a specific topic, kind of like what craig had in mind.

Robert Charlton

 7:27 pm on Jun 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why is Craigs List so successful?

It's cluetrain [cluetrain.com] live.


 12:38 am on Jun 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ic.. what do you guys think of a news column on a local for local website so people can simply write whatever they want about a news? is there any good script out there for that?

I think these type of interactive type of stuff could really drive traffic.


 4:29 am on Jun 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

The internet will have grown up completely when Craigs List drops the hippy act and joins the world of complete and absolute monetization.
It makes little sense to me that I can list a $1,000 used saxaphone for free. It's just not right!
Ebay will shortly teach these flower children how an honest buck is made!


 3:31 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Craiglist had a large user base when it first started -- it grew out of an e-mail list of jobs and other musings which was then forwarded and forwarded again (ad nauseum).

Its popularity grew out of the 2000 tech-job crisis if I recall correctly.

Whatever CL or anyone else charges for, jobs for instance, will be ripe for "free and useful" competition.

I can think of a couple other freebie and useful mailing lists that have the necessary audience to be able to launch immediately successful websites (although they probably won't). And their listings are mutually exclusive to CL.


 6:13 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

can you give some examples of such?


 6:13 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Everyone should check out Tribe.net

Its very interesting.. it integrated social networking, with user based recommandations, with craiglist like classified.

Do you guys think this will work?

Its really just taken couple of proven formulas and put it into one. lack creativity I say.. but it seems to make sense to me. Except for the user recommandation part, I think it is subject to schems.


 9:33 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

"schems" - I assume you mean 'scams'. If so, you are probably accurate. We run a site that collects user recommendations for a particular industry. Industry professionals also have a chance to register and update their listing. Well, a long time ago a particular professionl registered on our site posted 2 "user reviews" about herself immediately upon her registration. I recently checked and they are rated as a top professional for our industry on Tribe. While we make a modest effort to weed out "fake" user reviews and ratings, some sites are just not as interested... Craigslist is an open forum and anybody can post professional recommendations there. Some are legit and some are fake. While it's true for all user-review sites, some sites just do not make an effort to screen the fakes.


 10:55 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

The internet will have grown up completely when Craigs List drops the hippy act and joins the world of complete and absolute monetization.
It makes little sense to me that I can list a $1,000 used saxaphone for free. It's just not right!
Ebay will shortly teach these flower children how an honest buck is made!


In the end nothing beats the word *free*. If you care for traffic, that is.

Big business has nothing to teach to grass-root internet... webmasters doing great things for pennies out of a basement.


 10:07 am on Jun 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yeah I mean scams.. I never seem to pay enough attention to these things. : )


 4:55 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

CL is what in the industry is called a "category killer" and indeed their prices are so low that nobody can compete.

more or less is in itself a perfect example of applied capitalism, i prophetize that before or later the many EBAYs, Google, and MS will own the huge bulk of the web but they'll be forced to cut their revenues to the extreme to maintain their position and kill the competition from the ground.

(for instance McDonalds does the same thing,btw)

the result of this is terrible!

- you get only a very limited choice of brands
- the average product is trash since they have no competition
- everything is based on low price
- no innovation at all (they don't need it since there's no competition)

but at the same time we can't dream of living in a perpetual competition where quality goes up and prices go down, and this is the final end of capitalism, like it or not.

capitalism in every form is a transition process, not a perpetual process, and it will always end up with few big corporations owning anything and a mass of consumers fighting in a pathetic rat race to find a better job.

what happens if one day someone make something like EBAY but with really low margins and profits?
would it kill EBAY?

it happens, and has happened, just think about the huge success of the low-cost air companies like Ryanair...


 4:56 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

another case-study :



 4:58 pm on Jul 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

how can you possibly compete with Wal Mart?

but the consumer can no more choose, what they have is the junk wal mart is selling (mostly cheap chinese stuff), for anything else they got to pay high prices
but there's not much in the middle since wal mart can even sell under-priced goods if they really want to kick you out of biz, and they will.

This 33 message thread spans 2 pages: 33 ( [1] 2 > >
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