craigslist

Craigslist Inc.
Private
Founded1995
HeadquartersSan Francisco Bay Area, USA
Key peopleCraig Newmark founder
Jim Buckmaster CEO
IndustryInternet
Productsclassifieds, forums
Revenuenot published
Employees24
Websitewww.craigslist.org


Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free classified advertisements (with jobs, internships, housing, personals, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories) and forums on various topics.

Description

The service was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark for the San Francisco Bay Area. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four each in 2001 and 2002, and 14 in 2003. As of September 2007, Craigslist had established itself in approximately 450 cities in 50 countries.

As of 2007, Craigslist operates with a staff of 24 people.[1] Its sole source of revenue is paid job ads in select cities ($75 per ad for the San Francisco Bay Area; $25 per ad for New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Chicago) and paid broker apartment listings in New York City ($10 per ad).

The site serves over five billion page views per month, putting it in 34th place overall among web sites world wide, ninth place overall among web sites in the United States (per Alexa.com on December 292006), to ten million unique visitors. With over ten million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over 500,000 new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world.[2] The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements, to personal ads and even erotic services.

In December 2006, at the UBS Global Media Conference in New York, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster perplexed Wall Street analysts by stating that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead preferring to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.

The company does not formally disclose financial or ownership information. Analysts and commentators have reported varying figures for its annual revenue, ranging from $10 million in 2004, $20 million in 2005, and $25 million in 2006 to possibly $150 million in 2007.[3][4][5] It is believed to be owned principally by Newmark, Buckmaster, and eBay (the three board members). eBay owns approximately 25%, and Newmark is believed to own the largest stake.[6][5]

Background

Enlarge picture
Craigslist World Headquarters in San Francisco's Sunset District
Having observed people helping one another in a friendly, social and trusting community way on the Net, the WELL, and Usenet, and feeling isolated as a relative newcomer to San Francisco, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark decided to create something similar for local events.

The first postings debuted in early 1995. The initial technology encountered some limits, so by June of 1995 majordomo had been installed and the mailing list "craigslist" resumed operations. Most of the early postings were submitted by Newmark and were notices of social events of interest to software and internet developers living and working in San Francisco.

Soon, word of mouth led to rapid growth. Both subscribers and the number of postings grew rapidly. There was no moderation, so Newmark was surprised when people started using the mailing list for non-event postings. People trying to fill technical positions found that the list was a good way to reach people with the skills they were looking for. This led to the addition of a category for "jobs". User demand for more categories caused the list of categories to grow. About this time, community members started asking for a web interface. Newmark enlisted the help of volunteers and contractors to create a website user interface for the different mailing list categories. Needing a domain name for this, Craig registered "craigslist.org" (and later, "craigslist.com", to prevent the name "craigslist" from being used for other purposes).

By early 1998, Newmark still thought his career was as a software engineer ("hardcore java programmer") and that craigslist was a cool hobby that was getting him invited to the best parties for geeks and nerds. In the fall of 1998, the name "List Foundation" was introduced and Craigslist started transitioning to the use of this name. In April 1999, when Newmark learned of other organizations called "List Foundation", the use of this name was dropped. About this time, Newmark realized that the site was growing so fast that he could stop working as a software engineer and work full time running craigslist. By April 2000, there were nine employees working out of Newmark's apartment on Cole Street in San Francisco.[7]

Newmark says that Craigslist works because it gives people a voice, a sense of community trust and even intimacy. Other factors he cites are consistency of down-to-earth values, customer service and simplicity. After first being approached about running banner ads, Newmark decided to keep Craigslist non-commercial. In 2002, Craigslist staff posted mock-banner ads throughout the site as an April Fools joke.[8]

Significant events

  • In January 2000, current CEO Jim Buckmaster joined the company as lead programmer and CTO. Buckmaster contributed the site's multi-city architecture, search engine, discussion forums, flagging system, self-posting process, homepage design, personals categories, and best-of-Craigslist feature. He was promoted to CEO in November 2000.[9]
  • In 2002, a disclaimer was put on the "men seeking men", "casual encounters", "erotic services", and "rants and raves" boards to ensure that those who clicked on these sections were over the age of 18. No disclaimer was on the "men seeking women," "women seeking men" or "women seeking women" boards. Responding to charges of discrimination and negative stereotyping, Buckmaster explained that the company's policy is a response to user feedback requesting the warning on the more sexually explicit sections, including "men seeking men".[10] Today, all of the above listed boards (as well as some others) lead to a disclaimer.
  • In 2003 Michael Ferris Gibson filmed the documentary 24 Hours on Craigslist.
  • On August 1, 2004, Craigslist began charging $25 to post job openings on the New York and Los Angeles pages. On the same day, a new section was added called "Gigs", where low-cost and unpaid jobs and internships can be posted for free.
  • On August 13, 2004, Newmark announced on his blog that auction giant eBay had purchased a 25% stake in the company from a former principal. Some fans of Craigslist have expressed concern that this development will affect the site's longtime non-commercial nature, but it remains to be seen what ramifications the change will actually have. As of June 2007, there have been no substantive changes to the usefulness or non-advertising nature of the site (still no banner ads, still only charging for a few services to businesses).
  • In July 2005, Craigslist won the right to beam over 2 million classified ads into deep space (one light year away) in the near future after Buckmaster won an eBay auction for broadcasting time from the company Deep Space Communications Network. Newmark said, "We believe there could be an infinite market opportunity" in space.[11]
  • A September 5, 2007 New York Times article said numerous vice squads throughout the United States used Craigslist to catch would-be providers and customers of prostitution services.[12] It described the recent arrest of eight women who traveled to Nassau County, New York as part of the county's new sting operation that focuses on Craigslist, and also mentioned the November 2006 arrests of 71 men in Seattle, Washington, July 2007 arrests of 60 women in Cook County, Illinois, and August 2007 arrest of 33 men in Jacksonville, Florida.[13] According to the article, police said "Craigslist has changed prostitution’s patterns," and their crackdowns are "worthwhile because prostitution is often linked to other crimes involving drugs, weapons, physical abuse and exploitation of minors and immigrants."

Controversies

  • On February 32006, Craigslist was sued by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for allegedly allowing users to post discriminatory housing ads in Chicago that violate the Fair Housing Act. The case was subsequently dismissed.[14]
  • On September 8 2006, several sites reported that Craigslist's "Casual Encounters" forums in several cities had been compromised by individuals posting fraudulent ads in order to obtain personal information about people. This information, including email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, photos, etc. was publicly posted online.[15]
  • In April 2007, a vacant Tacoma, Washington, housing unit was gutted and vandalized after a Craigslist ad asked people to Come and take what you want. Everything is free. Please help yourself to anything on the property.[16] According to the Seattle Times, court documents show that the ad was placed by someone the owner knew who was seeking revenge for a prior altercation.[17]

Criticism

  • In July 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle criticized Craigslist for allowing ads from dog breeders, and thereby allegedly encouraging the over breeding and irresponsible selling of pit bulls in the Bay Area.[18]
  • In January 2006, the San Francisco Bay Guardian published an editorial criticizing Craigslist for moving into local communities and "threatening to eviscerate" local alternative newspapers. Craigslist has been compared to Wal-Mart, a multinational corporation that some feel crushes small local businesses when they move into towns and offer a huge assortment of goods at arguably cheaper prices.[19]
  • In August 2007, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has called on Craigslist to take responsibility for the company's role in promoting child prostitution in her city.[20]

Nonprofit foundation

In 2001, the company started the Craigslist Foundation, a § 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps emerging nonprofit organizations get established, gain visibility, attract the attention of potential donors, and develop the skills and knowledge required for long-term success.

It accepts charitable donations, and rather than directly funding organizations, it produces face-to-face events and offers online resources to help grassroots organizations get off the ground and contribute real value to the community.

Awards

  • NYPRESS: 2003, Best Local Website, by Manhattan Reader's Poll[21]
  • Webby: 2001, Best Community Site, by the Academy[22]

Cities

The first 14 city sites were: [23] (entire list) Vancouver, Canada, was the first non U.S. city included. London, England was the first city outside North America.

In November 2004, Amsterdam, Bangalore, Paris, Sao Paulo and Tokyo became the first cities outside of primarily English speaking countries.

As of September 2007, 450 cities in 50 countries are represented.[23]

References

1. ^ (Winter 2007) "Alwayson Magazine": 33. 
2. ^ Amanda Lenhart and Jeremy Shermak (November 2005). Selling items online (PDF). Pew Internet. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
3. ^ Adam Lashinsky. "Burning Sensation", Fortune Magazine, December 122005. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.2005"> 
4. ^ Brian M. Carney. "Zen and the Art of Classified Advertising: Craigslist could make $500 million a year. Why not?", Wall Street Journal, June 172006. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.2006"> 
5. ^ Owen Thomas. "http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008531", Valleywag, July 262007. Retrieved on 2008-08-22.2007"> 
6. ^ Greg Sandoval. "Craigslist grapples with competitor on board", CNET, July 32007. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.CNET&rft.date=July%2032007"> 
7. ^ Archived page from Craigslist's About Us (April 19 2000). Retrieved on 2007-02-08.
8. ^ april fool's rules. craigslist. Retrieved on 2007-02-08.
9. ^ Jim Buckmaster—CEO & programmer. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
10. ^ Warning: men seeking men—Craigslist posts disclaimer for gay male personals. Southern Voice Online (August 312005). Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
11. ^ Beam your craigslist ad into space (July 152005). Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
12. ^ Bruce Lambert (September 52007). As Prostitutes Turn to Craigslist, Law Takes Notice. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
13. ^ Adam Aasen (August 102007). Prostitution sting nets 33 men: They were arrested after answering ads for an escort service. The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved on 2007-09-05.
14. ^ Chicago Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc. (February 32006). Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
15. ^ Sex Baiting Prank on Craigslist Affects Hundreds (September 62006). Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
16. ^ House ripped apart after fake ad placed online. NEWS.com.au (April 072007). Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
17. ^ Brian Alexander (May 172007). Woman charged after Craigslist posting resulted in a house stripped. The Seattle Times. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
18. ^ Ilene Lelchuk (May 172007). Craigslist pressured to ban dog, cat ads. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
19. ^ Tim Redmond (July 112005). Editor's Notes. San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
20. ^ David Pendered (August 222007). Mayor rips craigslist over child prostitution. agc.com.
21. ^ Readers Poll Results—Best of Manhattan 2003 Readers Poll. New York Press. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
22. ^ Best Web Sites of the Year Honored at the 5th Annual Webby Awards. The Webby Awards (July 182001). Retrieved on 2007-09-06.
23. ^ craigslist.org (November 2006). craiglist fact sheet. Retrieved on 2007-09-06.

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Craig Alexander Newmark (born 2 December 1952 in Morristown, New Jersey) is an American Internet entrepreneur best known for being the founder of the San Francisco-based website Craigslist.

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