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How Craigslist Makes Money (forbes.com)
256 points by sytelus 129 days ago | hide | past | web | 232 comments | favorite



I think they are doing it right.

Just find a niche and work at it progressively through life. No need to raise $100M D Rounds, no need to have an explosive exit, whatever.

I think it would be nice to just steadily have six figures, work on something I love and live life (a la Basecamp). Most of all: Have complete control of your destiny. No investors, no bosses, etc.


>Most of all: Have complete control of your destiny. No investors, no bosses, etc.

Here's a useful guideline to add to what you said: unless some person makes way more than the Basecamp founders (e.g. through some unicorn deal or whatever) and enjoys the same freedom to shape their product, then they have absolutely no leg to stand on to criticize their model much less to sneer.

I mean, some startup multi-millionaire/billionaire sneering at "lifestyle businesses" I can understand (though not agree with).

But some ramen eating wannabe sneering at them, it's inane, since the majority don't end up nowhere near as succesful.


Ugh, I know! I hate it when broke people have opinions.


Obviously my comment was not about not liking broke people having opinions.

It was about not liking broke "wannabe startup billionaires" sneering on people with lifestyle businesses as if they somehow "failed".


Nonetheless, you are understanding of the sneering of the folks who are rich enough.

Sneering is a bad habit no matter your income level. Justifying it for the rich while dismissing it for people who are broke remains an expression of classism, no matter how much you try to clarify your intent.


S/he wasn't justifying sneering for the rich, they were saying they understood sneering at lifestyle businesses in the case of people who succeeded at building unicorn startups.

It's not about money or class, it's about success in a particular field and judgement of that particular field.


Sure. That's why they specified ...some startup multi-millionaire/billionaire ... Because money is not relevant to their point.

/s

Also, I hate the term "lifestyle business" because:

http://micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com/2014/03/i-love-lucy-...


>Sure. That's why they specified ...some startup multi-millionaire/billionaire ... Because money is not relevant to their point.

Yes, "sure".

My argument was clear enough, and as the parent wrote "it's not about money or class, it's about success in a particular field and judgement of that particular field". What part of either seems difficult to parse?

Obviously money is relevant to my point in so much as it serves as the proof of that startup/unicorn success. The idea, and it's bizarro that I have to state it again, is rather that if you're to sneer at somebody for not "making it big" with their business, it only makes sense if you do it while yourself having a bigger business.

That's why I wrote millionaire/billionaire, not because I hold millionaires/billionaires in high esteem, or find it OK for them to look down on people.

I just find it more logical for a more succesful in business person to sneer at a less succesful in business regarding the latters business success, than the opposite.


Money is not the only measure of success. Yet it seems to far too often be the only one cited, whether on HN or elsewhere in the world.

Your inability to see that your point is about money and classism while using net worth as THE measure of success worth noting is both frustrating and all too common.


>Nonetheless, you are understanding of the sneering of the folks who are rich enough

Whoosh. Yes, but not because they are rich, but because at least it makes logical sense to look down on someone regarding his business if you actually have a bigger business.

OTOH, it doesn't make sense to sneer on someone's business if you only have the idea/dellusion/etc. that you'll make it much bigger than them.


I know hindsight is 20/20, but it's interesting to me that they could've created Airbnb, as they had both the reach and finances to potentially create a side-project that was specific to short-term rentals. They already had sublets and temporary rentals as a sub-listing since forever.

I know that Airbnb comes across as warm and fuzzy hosts who engage with guests, but it's progressively more commercialized with a good portion of hosts either managing multiple short-term rental properties or dedicating a space specifically for the purposes of consistently having short-term rentals.


That would have completely changed the company, though. Airbnb works by introducing ratings, insurance and being an intermediary someone can at least theoretically call if a renter is crazy or the listing isn't as advertised.

Craigslist has 50 employees and minimal vetting of anything. It's great for what it is, but I would never use it to rent anything​ site unseen.


> Craigslist has 50 employees and minimal vetting of anything. It's great for what it is, but I would never use it to rent anything​ site unseen.

This is one reality show I would watch. Forget all those "We sleep in a dark place recording all the sounds buildings make and then speculate wildly about causes" shows. Sleeping overnight in a house/room/whatever rented randomly off Craigslist would be way more interesting and probably frequently more frightening.


I hope someone reads this and makes it a reality.


Thinking about this a bit more, I think it would have to be a show where the hosts were in on it. The scam artists would learn of this show if it became popular, and avoid renting to folks seemingly associated with it.

A format like "Diner's, Drive'ins and Dives" would make sense with personal tours, instead of these 'virtual tours' found on VRBO (now owned by Expedia) and AirBnB.

Anything too dramatic won't scale, or it will be fake (like most 'reality' tv).

Edit: I guess one could do it surreptitiously, and save up the content, only to slowly release it ("maximizing revenue"). This might come across as "hit-piece journalism" funded by the AirBnB and VRBO. Change the cast of the show so they are not known associates of the show before the content is made public.


If I had to bet which would last longer between Craigslist and AirBnB, I would pick Craigslist.

I may be wrong, but I think it's the better bet for the long term.


I don't know if that's a matter of hindsight. AirBnB operates by pushing the boundaries of rental law, frequently overstepping them, constantly getting into fights with municipal governments. Not everyone wants to have that sort of a business, no matter how potentially profitable.


Craigslist has had its fair share of that:

https://www.google.com/search?q=craigslist+erotic+services+l...


From what I can recall, Craigslist didn't create their Erotic Services listings to profit off erotic services, but rather to stop escort advertisers from spamming their posts into arbitrary unrelated Craigslist sections. Having one forum that was "for that" allowed Craigslist to ghettoize those advertisers, allowing people who didn't want to see that sort of thing to avoid it. Worked quite well.

After Craigslist was forced to drop the Erotic Services listings, the volume of such postings didn't decrease at all—it just shifted back to being posted on random other sections, to the detriment of everyone.


Niche FTW definitely. But I think it'd be hard to find something that's "steady". I run my own business and it's always changing -- the market's changing, the technologies are changing.


Craiglist, because of its age, is interestingly built on Perl[1] and four years ago brought on Perl's founder, Larry Wall.[2]

[1] https://www.craigslist.org/about/thanks (CL tech stack) [2] http://blog.craigslist.org/2013/10/15/artist-formerly-known/


Craigslist are so quiet about their tech; I'm surprised there's even that much. I'd love to hear their opinions on operating some of those things at scale, given that their problems are likely much more like those of the average CRUD-y SaaS business (scaled up) than they are like those of e.g. Twitter or Facebook, who have to care about things like "realtime demand-based geographic read-only partial replication of event streams."


Simplicity has its benefits.

And, to be clear, there is some info online about craigslist tech.

Source: I'm a 8+ year employee who's given public talks about tech at craigslist, some of which have been recorded and are online.


I believe this based on a thing I think I read a long time ago, but isn't all of CL's tech focused solely on preventing any indexing of the site? It's no wonder they would keep it quiet.


I would like to believe this, but given the amount of spam that gets posted to CL—and given how well a sophisticated, heuristic anti-indexing WAF would block spambot request traffic as a simple side-effect—I find the idea a bit dubious.


A lot of spam on CL isn't created by bots, but by human beings.

As little as 3 years ago, I knew people who'd make job ads on elance asking someone to 'automate' their craigslist renewals and postings.


Dubious indeed.


that cant be right given how you can find cl pages on google


or they just decided to allow Google?


I remember looking up this exact question a few days ago. I really prefer to sell things like used electronics on Craigslist over eBay.

I really like their business model too. They made enough to keep going, but not enough that they aspire to take over everything. It's a really simple concept, and there are very few business ideas that can pull it off.


> It's a really simple concept, and there are very few business ideas that can pull it off.

The vast majority of businesses bootstrap themselves. Not on HN of course :)


I think the GP was right—there are very few business ideas that can pull off bootstrapping. The space of business ideas executable with funding is a superset of (and probably much larger than) the space of business ideas executable without funding.

Also, most of the ideas you can only execute with funding are such because they'll never make any money. ;)

The majority of all successful businesses, meanwhile, operate off a very small sub-space of the space of all business ideas. The part of the space called "workable business models."

I'd agree that if you look at the space of workable business models, probably the majority of them are either bootstrap-friendly, or common and low-risk enough that regular consumer banks are willing to finance them with debt-capital (i.e. "business loans".)


Craig probably did some math and found out that even if he lives to 800 years old, he will not be able to spend it all so why go nuts? This way everything is manageable and he doesn't need to report to anyone.


I'm surprised that more successful people don't do this? Is the drive that lead them to absurd success what leads them to continue well beyond needing to?

I find it hard to imagine hitting $10 million and not just dropping everything and spending the rest of my life on random hobbies and traveling. Maybe that's why I don't have $10 million?


Hell, I have just over 1/10th and I'm trying to extract myself from the workaday life. What is truly ridiculous is that I can't yet do so, largely due to the high cost of buying health insurance yourself. It's like the whole US is designed around debt slavery and moving the goalposts further and further out.

$5-10M is probably the low bar for living a kick-ass non-tied-to-employment lifestyle in the US. Certainly people are doing it on less, but I'm not talking trailer park or RV , I'm talking decent house in a decent neighborhood, with few compromises on travel and doing what you want.


I imagine you have heard of the Mr Money Mustache and his wife who became financially independent at age ~30 with both of them just working regular tech jobs. You should check out his blog[1] if you haven't. His philosophy is low spending while still having "kick-ass life". Offspring, travel, great food, etc. They own their house and spend about $25,000 per year.

[1] http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/


yes they went financially indy by becoming super duper frugal which is kind of like saying one can stay skinny if they ate 1200 cals a day without ever eating out

sustainable for some but not for everyone


> They own their house and spend about $25,000 per year

In the Bay Area, this is a multi-million-dollar ordeal in itself :-(


I get that the Bay Area is nice, but a lot of expensive housing is expensive because of its proximity to high-paying jobs. If you don't need one of those, you can live more cheaply.

(Unfortunately, proximity to smart, creative people also seems to correlate with housing costs. I wonder what US cities have the best "proximity to interesting people to living expense" ratio?)

I think Mr. Money Mustache lives in some Colorado suburb, and he was able to buy a nicer house for less money specifically because it's not in the immediate vicinity of a major economic hub.


> I wonder what US cities have the best "proximity to interesting people to living expense" ratio

I wonder what place, worldwide, city or not, has the best "proximity to interesting people" : cost-of-living ratio. I'm at a place in my life where I'd be willing to both immigrate and learn a language if it meant finding myself in this century's Venice.


I don't know about worldwide, but don't believe what you've been told about U.S. flyover country. Understand that when somebody says a state is a "red state," we're still talking about a ~45% liberal population, almost all of which is concentrated in cities.

Your Kansas Citys and Cincinnatis and so on are full of interesting people. And they have a lot of what you'd expect from larger coastal cities, albeit on a smaller scale.

And, despite what the HN crowd thinks, they got the WWW 25 years ago there, too.


Probably true enough, but isn't very useful information to me: I don't live in the US in the first place, so it's not easier for me to pick a US city than one anywhere else. :)


He lives in Longmount, CO, which is 15 miles northeast of Boulder, CO. He might have picked one of the best "proximity to interesting people to living expense" ratios places.

One of his ideas he highlights is to be choosy where you live and be open to moving. He is from eastern Canada originally and highly recommends the Colorado Front range cities and towns for the quality of life. The Denver area has lots of high tech and quite diverse. Oil and gas, satellites, computers, mining, scientific research, and a small VC/startup scene in Boulder. You can build a lot of housing on the nice and flat great plains and still see the mountains.


  ... the basement income to qualify as 'rich' will here be 
  considered to be $400,000 in annual income that'll come in 
  regardless of whether anyone in the family is holding a 
  paying job or not.
From "What are your TRUE chances of getting rich in America? OR How to get rich in America"[1]

You might also be interested in "The super-rich, the 'plain' rich, the 'poorest' rich... and everyone else"[2].

[1]: http://www.jmooneyham.com/your-true-chances-of-getting-rich.... [2]: http://www.jmooneyham.com/rich.html


$5-10 million!?!? Thats steep. What are you going to spend $5-10 million on? I plan on retiring early at $1.25 million. I could do it on less but $1.25M lets me keep the lifestyle I have now, which is awesome. I don't live in a trailer park, I own a big (to me) house and I spent tons on food and booze.


Gotta keep up with inflation.

5M generating 3-5% on super safe assets is 150-250k/yr that's generated. After taxes (~40%), that is 90-150k which is 7.5-12.5k/month to spend.

A typical 2-3k sqft newish home in an upper-income neighborhood (median income around 80-90k) runs 400-600k+, which will yield a $2-3k/mo mortgage and $500-1000/mo in property taxes + 500-1000 in general utilities. So just to own a home in an upper-income neighborhood is 3-5k/month. Even if the house is paid off, one is looking at 1-2k/month in property taxes & utilities.

Decent health insurance can easily run around closer 1-2k/month for a family. Yes there are plans for $100/mo as well, but those pretty much as good as not having insurance.

Also a portion of the proceeds needs to be reinvested back to keep up with inflation. It feels that most things have doubled in cost since I was in highschool back in the late 90s/early 00s.

Sure, it's possible to live on 25k/yr (family of 4-5?) like Mr Money Mustache. It really depends on the lifestyle one would like the maintain.

The point of being financially independent is to be able to do as one pleases, but if the things that one wants to pursue cost a decent chunk of money, then the retirement income needs to accommodate said hobbies.

Travel, transportation (cars, boats), housing can be cheap, but virtually unlimited amounts of money can be spent on those categories alone and those categories tend to be the ones that people generally enjoy splurging on.


Well that house/lifestyle is unreasonable to me, in my opinion. What area has $12,000 a year in property taxes? Does it come with government lap dances?

That's also not how taxes work on capital gains.

I live in a wonderful house I bought for $220,000 with 20% down. I could downgrade if I need in the future but I like the space right now. The P+I of my mortgage is $750/month, taxes $400, utilities $250, insurance $145. I live in an average neighborhood, I don't live in an upper income neighborhood because I don't like upper income neighborhoods, they are too far away from everything. I also don't live in a 'hood. I live on the coast 2 miles from the beach and waking distance to plenty of places. I doubt my town is somehow unique in that respect.

If your spending is less than your capital gains and dividends you never have to worry about money again.

I was replying to "$5-10M is probably the low bar for living a kick-ass non-tied-to-employment lifestyle in the US." I have a kick-ass lifestyle (to me) for much less than $5-10M so I disagree. I don't think living where you have to drive 20 minutes minimum to go anywhere is "kick-ass." I don't find joy in buying new gadgets to impress my neighbors. I ran the numbers and Kick-Ass is at a million and a quarter to me.


>What area has $12,000 a year in property taxes?

There is no state income tax in Texas, only sales and property tax. A house valued in Houston at $400k will yield ~$7,700/yr in taxes. Search the tax rolls at hcad.org - pick a zip code like 77008 and see for yourself. Just be sure to pick 2016 tax values as 2017 aren't posted yet.

http://hcad.org/property-search/real-property-advanced-recor...

Select "A1" for the property type and/or put in a valuation to filter the dataset down below the max of 3,000 records. Any more than that will return an error.


It's all location dependent. Plenty of suburbs are 5 minutes away from just about everything necessary. I'm referring to upper-income as areas with median incomes much higher than the median US, not necessarily rich neighborhoods: Northern NJ, Bucks County PA, Northern Virginia, etc.

NJ property taxes are 2%, so a modest 1500 sqft sub 300k house like this runs 6700/year in taxes alone: https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Cherry-Hill-NJ/3822405...

PA property taxes are cheaper, so a recently (1999) built home for 500k runs around 7.3k/yr: https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Warrington-PA/9124953_...

At these rates, a house around 800-900k runs about 10-12k/yr in prop taxes. A ~600k house in NJ runs around 12k/yr. And as you get to closer commuting distance to NY, housing prices go up.

There's a reason why MMM is big on being very choosy about location. Northern NJ is crazy due to its proximity to NY and the taxes scale with the price. A 1 BR condo in SF can be 1M, or you can get a very nice, recently built 2k sqft house for 200k in Texas.

Personally, from living in newer homes and older homes (built in the 1950-60s), I prefer newer homes. They are generally more energy efficient and have less things that are a ticking time bomb that need to be fixed or attended to. Old homes need new furnaces, roofs, water heaters, leaking pipes, new appliances, leaking windows, drafts, etc.

Of course if one's spending is less than their gains & dividends, one is set for life provided that the gains are scaling with inflation or the draw down rate of the savings based on life-expectancy can last long enough.

Personally, I'd definitely agree that ~1M is more than plenty to live very comfortably as a single individual. I would want around ~2-3M if I had to support a family though.


Paul Allen spent about $200 mil on his super yacht, which one could categorize under "hobbies & traveling." I imagine once you hit 8 figures, a new class of shiny toys all of a sudden feel within reach and become a lot more tempting to a lot of people.


That's called "lifestyle inflation," and it's real. Your lifestyle inflates to your income. People tend to spend $40k a year if their salary is $40k a year and spend $500k a year if their salary is $500k a year.


For sure. At 20 billion USD, Paul Allen is in the 11 digit club (googled "paul allen net worth"). If that is mostly Microsoft stock a 2.25% divivend [1] is gonna throw off like $450 million a year in cash. I would have to get real creative to spend a fraction of the wealth.

[1] https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/MSFT/


Hobbies do scale upwards.


I imagine many do, you just don't hear about them.

For example I know a few people who are millionaires but you wouldn't know it to talk to them. They don't live overly extravagant lives. They have a nice house, some hobbies (e.g. a very nice car(s), a private plane, an art collection), a job they enjoy and friends they spend time with.

At least for those I know didn't strike it rich with some novel idea, they ran a small business or their own finances well and put away what they could for decades.


That's because that's basically all you can do with only $1M these days! The US is nothing but a grievous lie--we have allowed a tiny few to extract all the wealth to the tippy tippy top. I can't even believe people work for like $50K in most places anymore, they should be taking up arms at this point.


In most places in the US you can live extremely comfortably, even with a couple of moderately expensive hobbies, on 50k. Get out of the big cities.


That's like 3k/month after taxes. Great for a single person, but seems tight for a family even in a super low cost of living area. I'm imagining spending around 1k/mo for a 3br place + utils, and another ~1k easily burned on groceries, 2 cars + car insurance. 1k remaining to be split amongst family member needs seems very tight.


$50k is a plenty comfortable life in 99% of the US. Hell, probably 99% of the world


> The US is nothing but a grievous lie

Please don't post political or ideological rants to HN, regardless of which flavor. It's not what this site is for and we eventually ban accounts that do it.


For one thing, if you stop working, your are unlikely to be able to step back in the game at that same level. There are people who work less and just keep a toe in, so to speak, but if you just completely stop and let all your connections dry up, you may be unable to make money like that again if you should need it for some reason.

For another, inflation. What used to be a LOT of money isn't anymore. What is currently a LOT of money won't be in a few more years. And the beat goes on.

There are other reasons, but from a practical standpoint, those two are biggies.


I think for most people in that situation, working is easier than relaxing.


I find it hard to imagine hitting $1 million and not just dropping everything for hobbies. The answer is that $N figure is different for each person.


I think it was Nolan Bushnell who said that business is the ultimate game. You keep score with money.

Never underestimate people's drive to win, even if winning is meaningless.


Fair point. I just don't relate to what pushes a wealthy person down the path of ludicrous wealth. Do they really just love doing what they're doing?


Airplane travel is a good example where you just end up chasing the dragon. You start by wanting to make enough money to take a trip every once in a while. Then the cheapest economy class tickets aren't good enough - start making more money, and you just buy a ticket, no need to spend an hour finding that perfect ticket. Then economy class isn't good enough, so you get business class seats. Then you get lounge access, then move up to first class.

Then, you start time sharing a private jet but at that level that's kind of lame, and what you really want is your own private jet, but once you have one, it's so terrible when it's in the shop, so then you get a second, but you're also noticing how cramped the current one is, and go for a larger one this time...


I like to say (not sure if it's original or not), "anyone who says 'money doesn't buy happiness' has never traveled First Class". I got bumped into FC once, and it. was. amazing. Especially on a long haul flight, you actively enjoy the time spent there.


I remember my first time in international First Class. A very spacious seat. Personal service. Continuous champagne, caviar, goose-liver pate, Godiva chocolates, etc, etc, etc. All on linen with silver silverware. Since then, I've flown first class a number of times. Most recently, a friend offered me a "free" upgrade certificate for a flight from Heathrow to Chicago. After fees and taxes, it would have cost me $100. I declined. Been there. Done that. I rationalized that after the trip was over the jet-lag was gone and the flight was just a blurred memory, I'd rather have the $100.


What?! You found that international first class wasn't worth the $100 upgrade fee?


I flew first class once. It's the difference between being uncomfortable and being slightly less uncomfortable.


not on international flights from what i hear


No, I flew international first class and international economy. I stand by what I said, it's the difference between being uncomfortable and being slightly less uncomfortable. You're still stuck on a plane.


Which airline, out of interest? I understand that American airlines have less attractive Biz/First offerings than European and Middle-Eastern airlines.


Lufthansa.

Doesnt matter though, no matter what they do they aren't going to take away the fact I'm stuck on a airplane for 15 hours. I'm also the kind of person who prefers to get up and get something rather than be served.


If you have to travel, then would you rather spend the 15 hours in Economy class or First class?


First class, but I wouldn't pay extra for it. Well maybe ~25 dollars extra.


thats what i thought too until my first few first rides, even domestic. nowadays if the delta between economy comfort and first on a domestic flight is <$150/pp, i'll do it


well if you don't like flying then nothing is good lol

i love flying so as long as it isn't sardine economy, i'm happy


I don't know, I grew up on welfare and after 20 years of being middle class I still have a hard time buying new shoes until my current pair is literally falling apart. Though, I guess my leap isn't as drastic... I'm still poor enough to be in a hotel and think "wow this carpet is really nice"


spoken from experience i bet :)

i can relate on the buying tickets thing. i used to buy tickets on priceline but after travelling every week for a year, i buy directly from american and buy first if the price delta isn't crazy (<$100)

i always buy prem economy though because anything else is asking for a bad time


Upper crust jobs bring a lot of respect with them. Being the CEO of a fortune 500 or even 5,000 company get's you into a social strata well beyond having a few 10's of millions in the bank.

Consider, people enjoy shopping at Neiman Marcus in part because of how the sales staff treat you. Now picture how you feel when an IBM sales team is trying to sell you over priced services.


Not arguing the social clout thing, but having sales teams hounds you on the regular, no matter how high the perks, sounds awful. To each their own.


Power and influence, setting up your kids for that life, your grandkids for that life, or they just enjoy it.


The kids blow the wealth more often than not and the grandkids spend every last dime of what the kids couldn't.

http://time.com/money/3925308/rich-families-lose-wealth/

(That's ignoring the fact that people who grow up 'set for life' tend to be truly terrible human beings)


who cares what happens when you're dead


Well if your goal is to "help out the grandkids in life" you should probably know leaving them your fortune is going to do the opposite.


well if i were in that situation, the way i would see it is "i did my part; my grandkids got money and i showed them how to use it." if they blow it all on cars and drugs, that's on them


I was wondering how they got that number; basically they use a $690M revenue guess from a third party, apply a valuation multiple from eBay and then multiply by the 42% Newmark owns.

Craigslist is unique; it isn't entirely profit driven and as far as Alexa 1000 sites; it might have stayed closest to it's original founding philosophy. I am not sure how they make money; iirc it was only a few select markets and select offerings like realestate. Costs are probably the lowest out of a site that size.

Awesome product; seemingly great philosophy; Newmark was early but he was principled and to that Craigslist owes much of it's success


> I was wondering how they got that number; basically they use a $690M revenue guess from a third party, apply a valuation multiple from eBay and then multiply by the 42% Newmark owns.

It's not that dubious. The methodology is as simple and straightforward as it gets:

> AIM's Zollman, who called his company's Craigslist revenue estimate "conservative," said the AIM Group counts up listings for each category in various markets and then multiplies that by the known fee associated with that listing. (Fees can range from $7 to $75 per posting, depending on location.)...As the founder of 3Taps, Kidd built an interface for programmers that pulled classifieds data from Craigslist and was able get an accurate picture of the total number of listings on the site. He published a 2011 white paper that pegged Craigslist's annual revenue at $300 million, a number he said has certainly risen as Craigslist has increased or rolled out more fees.

This is hard to screw up, and if anything, counting listings ought to be a drastic underestimate - crawls of a hostile large high-turnover website will be incomplete, and Craigslist has other potential revenue sources like selling feed data to hedge funds or real estate or HR agencies.

This makes it all very puzzling. As the quoted employee says:

> "Eventually we realized we were making a lot of money and it was more than we needed to just cover costs," the employee said, noting at one point in the early 2000s Craigslist was making $40,000 a day on Bay Area jobs ads alone. "We could all do the math, and we'd wonder where all the money would go."

So CL is making at a bare minimum $300 million a year by 2017, of which a large fraction is profit; the few employees say there are no major capital investments a la Amazon (and no one has ever pointed to major software or hardware investments attributed to Craigslist that I've ever seen), and you never hear of Craigslist billionaires or millionaires aside from Newmark, so the profit isn't simply being spent on datacenters or employee stock compensation; thus, around half would go to Newmark if it's distributed as dividends, so he could have an income of easily >$50m a year over the past 7 years after taxes or >$350m on top of whatever he earned before 2011 on that increasing revenue. The Craigslist Charitable Fund is disbursing $10m/year or less (and donations to that wouldn't be taxed), so that leaves >$300m (7 * 50-10). But Newmark claims to be worth much less than $400m total. So... where does it all go?

It's hard to see how two different groups counting listings could be high by an order of magnitude, what Craigslist could be spending it on, or what Newmark is spending it on, unless he's making huge anonymous donations every year through other nonprofits (but why avoid his own CCF?) or simply lying (for privacy to avoid the attention or maintain his self-image, or just in order to make look bad "a fake market intelligence group who I won’t name").


I agree; and didn't say it was dubious. That said; the title was phrased with a slight negative connotation; before it was changed it was like:

Newmark was an idealist; now he's a billionaire

He is likely a paper billionaire but the article didn't really prove to me he's less of an idealist not that he would sell; making that figure hypothetical.

Sure he's rich; but he could be much more so and the reason is ethics and idealism. So too me; I think saying the company is worth x; and he owns most of it fails to consider he likely wouldn't sell and has built a profitable business users love while remaining humble and ignoring greed

Edit: I know of one large anonymous donation he has made personally and I an nowhere near connected or know anyone that knows him personally


The article mentions 50 employees; assuming moderate turnover of 10% a year, starting from 1995, plus the 50 current employees, that's 110 people, along some 850,000 in San Francisco.

Even if they all wore t-shirts that said they work and Craigslist and are worth millions, would you still even have met one on the street?


> 25. A Craigslist competitor. Craiglist is ambivalent about being a business. This is both a strength and a weakness. If you focus on the areas where it's a weakness, you may find there are better ways to solve some of the problems Craigslist solves.

http://old.ycombinator.com/ideas.html


Remarkably prescient for 2008.

1. A cure for the disease of which the RIAA is a symptom. Something is broken when Sony and Universal are suing children. Actually, at least two things are broken: the software that file sharers use, and the record labels' business model. The current situation can't be the final answer.

8. Dating. Current dating sites are not the last word. Better ones will appear. But anyone who wants to start a dating startup has to answer two questions: in addition to the usual question about how you're going to approach dating differently, you have to answer the even more important question of how to overcome the huge chicken and egg problem every dating site faces. A site like Reddit is interesting when there are only 20 users. But no one wants to use a dating site with only 20 users—which of course becomes a self-perpetuating problem. So if you want to do a dating startup, don't focus on the novel take on dating that you're going to offer. That's the easy half. Focus on novel ways to get around the chicken and egg problem.

Tinder launched in 2012.

17. New payment methods. There are almost certainly things whose growth is held back because there's no way to charge for them.

Bitcoin.


w.r.t bitcoin being the new payment method, so far bitcoin hasn't enabled the really game changing thing: frictionless micropayments. It's possible that lighting networks will enable this (load up your browser with 5 bucks and lock that up in a connection to the LN, pay for articles then pay 1 cent to skip ads, buy premium features one at a time etc), but we haven't seen this yet.


Having read the Scott McCloud book that focused on micropayments almost 20 years ago, and having seen so very many people try something and have it go nowhere, I've come to the conclusion that micropayments are simply never going to be a thing.

My guess is, at the end of the day, people don't want to think about money transactions when doing ordinary things. You know that word "gamify"? Adding badges and shit to things to make tedious things "fun"? Micropayments do the opposite. Transactifying your ordinary processes makes them less fun because you're constantly thinking about spending money. It just adds friction, even just cognitive friction, when everything we do is about reducing it.

I think this is also why Patreon is taking off. People don't think about paying a penny to read a single comic, they just toss a few bucks at a comic artist each month.


What do you think about non-human actors interacting through micropayments? Either your computer acting in your interests with a small sum of money, or autonomous agents that live through a couple hours of compute at the cheapest price & keep their own wallet.


>we haven't seen [frictionless micropayments from the lighting network] yet.

You post should be corected: Frictionless micropayments are already running on the lighting network, are already operational: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baHHMNA8yf4


Thats lighting network on litecoin's chain. Bitcoin is still far from activating seg wit.

Any metrics on how large the lighting network is on litecoin yet? I have a couple laying around and would be happy to lock them up with a big node.


AWS:

4. Outsourced IT. In most companies the IT department is an expensive bottleneck. Getting them to make you a simple web form could take months. Enter Wufoo. Now if the marketing department wants to put a form on the web, they can do it themselves in 5 minutes. You can take practically anything users still depend on IT departments for and base a startup on it, and you will have the enormous force of their present dissatisfaction pushing you forward.


I guess Alan Kay is wrong: The best way to predict the future is to suggest others build for you.


Craigslist is ubiquitous in its niche, but i never really engaged with it beyond having a laugh at the occasional Craigslist meme post that worked it's way into the internet at large.

At the same time, for years now I've been banging on to any of my industry friends about how global social networks are an internet anachronism and that local networks are the future.

It's only just dawned on me that my misplaced futurism was simply describing a very successful long term business. A billion dollars later, it turns out Craigslist isn't niche at all - my thinking was.


I often wish Facebook would have followed that approach. They made money very early with small ads on a lots of page views, did not need investors.

But they went into the VC religion of revenue growth, took their money, then Wall Street money, and they cannot go back now because all employees and stockholders have been promised more. So more ads, more snooping on users, more worldwide control, we need to feed the beast.

Zuckerberg could have continued managing it a-la Craigslist, and still make a few billion for himself. We would all feel much better about using FB.


Facebook is at least successful at that: Twitter jeopardized their core business, took on huge operating costs, and is struggling to pay for it despite making what would otherwise have been a quite successful revenue stream.


>more snooping on users

It's Zuckerberg, that would have happened regardless.


I found it useful that they could use spam as a signal for what to monetize. When doing Blekko (search engine) we noticed that spam was a solid indicator of the search categories that made the most money.


If Craigslist makes ~600M in profit, Why the hell is Forbes giving them a valuation of 3B? That's a Price to Earnings ratio of 5. That's not conservative, that's insane. Am I missing something?


I think largely because they are estimates; I think Craigslist is likely worth way more given the ubiquitous nature, high margin, low costs and the decisions to not monetize everything.

That said, IMO this article is not about Craigslist but a subtle advert for the 2 "competing firms" that are mentioned. I have seen an uptick in articles about Craigslist mentioning them and had never heard of them before.

Potentially cynacism on my part.


Well spotted.


I read the article and still haven't heard of them...


I'm passed edit window; but Google:

"craigslist" + "offerUp"

You will see a lot of articles about how Craigslist makes money; is dangerous; potential revenue models; is going to finally get dethroned.

The one that made me think a campaign to promote these 2 companies was about bad site design.


If 600M is profit (not revenue), that's 400M short from 1B. That's not a bad valuation, also consider the user base is quite strong. Using both yield 3B is very conservative IMO. If you buy it for 3B, then you will get your investment worth in a couple years.


they said "most of 690M is profit" in the article. I used bayes theorem to go through all of the numbers out of 690M that I would have said "most" for, and arrived at a guess of 600M. Even if it were the lower bound of values for which the word "most" technically applies that's still earnings of 345M. An 11% a year on an investment of 3 billion. That's still insane. CL revenue is not terribly speculative.


I am not much of an investment person, but 600M for a classified site is actually pretty impressive for an old, well-established company. If they are able to maintain a high profit with low operation cost, then buyer can project more earning in the future. There is no absolute Craigslist will always make 600M a year. They may lose 10M next year or go bankrupt in ten years. So for 3B for the ten-year forecast (I don't have the data) may not be all that insane. I'd say if 3B is insane, look at all the startups out there, valuation is 10x more and they barely make any profit.


I think you are assuming that I meant insane in the sense that this was not a conservative estimate. That's sort of what I said, but it's clear from context that I meant the opposite. This estimate seems far too conservative to even count as an estimate, more of a trivial lower bound.


Actually when I read it again it still sounded like you think the valuation is too high. I think this is because you instantly said insane after saying the valuation is 3B. That's how I read it "that 3B valuation? It's insane." It is hard to guess which sentiment was applied. But now you cleared up your opinion on this, I appreicate it. You were trying to say "3B valuation? Wow that's impressive!"


I'm saying that Forbes is insane for giving a number so low based on their estimates. it is off by almost an order of magnitude what you would expect for similar companies.


I read your comment twice, it _does_ sound like you think it is too high.


It really shouldn't.


For companies that aren't going to eat the world, only exist on the network effect, and are happy in their space, a P/E of 5 is reasonable. How much would you pay to buy craigslist?


I assume they could effortlessly ramp to $1B if that estimate is semi-close. It would cost virtually nothing to add more paid markets and services; maybe allow the gravity algo to be tweaked.

Figure very low costs for a site like that you could make your money back in 5-6 years; which is insane at that scale. I bet if they put it up for sale for $3B it would be sold by the end of the week


At least 10x their yearly profit? What other investment provides a consistent 10% yearly return on the scale we're talking about?

At P/E ratio of 5, you literally just wait 5 years and you've just made as much as your initial investment.


If you get five years before someone disrupts it. That's not a given.


Given craigslist has been around for 20 years I think it's fair to assume they could take an upwards of 5 years to unseat. Even Myspace continues on to this day.


A p/e of 5 is NOT reasonable. Has everyone gone mad? Blue chips run at about 20.

Therefore I would pay 10B for craigslist in a heartbeat. I could probably even get a bank to loan me the money.


Snap and Twitter both have valuation much higher than $3 billion and have zero profit. I would agree that the valuation seems high, but not compared to other tech companies.


The valuation seems absurdly low.


>It also charges fees to list postings in categories including ... automobiles offered by dealers

This was a huge thing in my industry. I work with a lot of independent car dealers that used to list everything on their lots with Craigslist, then they started charging the dealers $5 a pop and many of them just quit using it.

There are too many other car listing sites out there now that offer more than just an ad (vehicle reports like Carfax, market trends, valuation, et cetera), so Craigslist just wasn't worth the cost to them.


I'm happier for it, as otherwise you wind up with garbage ads from the smaller lots. For example, they'll list the monthly payment instead of the price, which makes wading through 'sort by increasing price' a PITA. Or they'll put a bunch of SEO keywords into the ad such that their vehicle shows up on a search that it shouldn't.


Not to mention the places that post the same ad every day or even more frequently.

Hmm, I'm interested in a Subaru. (I search Subaru) 500 listings of the same BMW x5 come up.

Nevermind, let's see what Hondas are on the market. 500 listings of the same BMW x5 come up.

I throw my computer out the window.


Yup, if i search for 'honda' i have to throw in '-nissan -ford -financing -credit' or some abomination to actually get results, and flag whats left.


Yeah, I do understand that. But to comment on one point:

>For example, they'll list the monthly payment instead of the price, which makes wading through 'sort by increasing price' a PITA.

Every conference I've been to about the auto industry the experts say that, especially for low-income individuals, the monthly payment is what customers tend to be the most concerned about. In fact, many prefer to pay more total money over a longer term if it means a lower monthly payment.


>Every conference I've been to about the auto industry the experts say that, especially for low-income individuals, the monthly payment is what customers tend to be the most concerned about. In fact, many prefer to pay more total money over a longer term if it means a lower monthly payment.

I'm price sensitive about this - but for things I can't purchase as a one-off purchase I don't mind paying more money if it means I can pay a smaller amount monthly. To a point.

I imagine people who are more strapped for cash than I have less concern for just how much more they will be willing to pay over time if it means they have less worry from paycheck to paycheck. e.g. The difference between $250/mo and $375/mo could be their entire food budget for a month. So they could literally starve for 2 years and pay $375/mo payments or they could actually eat food and pay $250/mo for 4 years. Even if, without interest, they will be paying $3,000 more. ($12,000 vs $9,000).

This is one of the struggles of being poor: you can't afford to save money.


Yep, you're dead on. I usually work with the type of dealerships that do the end of the road "buy here pay here" type financing for people who have very bad or no credit, and that is exactly their customers' priority.

They don't care about how much money they will have paid in total 3 years from now, but how much money they'll have for food/heat/rent this month. And in America, unfortunately, a car is usually a necessity to make any money, so they accept the high interest, long term notes because they have no other choice.

The latest trend that's popping up are services that work together with dealerships to file income taxes on behalf of the customer. Tax season has always been the busy season for these dealerships since that's when refunds come in. Now the dealers are trying to streamline the process. Bring your W2 to the dealership, we'll file your taxes for you for free[0], and you get to drive off the lot with this vehicle weeks before the refund is actually processed.

[0] Hard to call it free when the contract is charging 20%+ APR.


> At 64, Newmark has long said that he is not involved in management decisions at Craigslist, though he still continues to do customer service.

I'm kind of curious what this means at a 50-person company. Is he still handling routine support tickets just for the love of it?


> Is he still handling routine support tickets just for the love of it?

I've always understood that this is PRECISELY what he is doing. I hope it's true.


How's Wales doing with Wikia? That was his attempt to monetize the Wikipedia concept. It ended up as a huge repository for fancruft. Does it make serious money?


Ugh, wikia has so many ads. Super annoying, especially when it's the only source of the content that you're interested in.


just look at how successful a business that is, so simple, so little innovation and yet so much revenue. But despite all that, they have the best feature (X factor) in the wolrd: market timing.

ohhh what i wouldn't do, to time travel back to 1995.


If you are going back, just buying stocks and sitting back would be easier than building a business. Almost guaranteed to be the richest person by 2017.


What's innovation have to do with it? Sounds like someone has convinced you that things have to work a certain way and you've found your first counter example...


It's a broadly held belief by many. It's good to look at craigslist to see how simple solutions are all that's necessary. Any yet, too frequently, we see companies spending soooo much money on useless features and so called innovations that don't help them solve their problem. This happens for both failing companies and very successful ones too. It can be difficult to isolate, exactly why something works, when you have so many confounding factors.


Actually, this day an age where all the simple problems have been solved, we're especially susceptible to this line of thinking. As entrepreneurs, we all know the saying: "It has to be x10 better than the existing product". Without new problems to solve, increasing desperation mounts, culminating lots of failures where a product is supposed to be x10 better.


Why doesn't Craigslist have mobile apps?


Craigslist is one of the best pages on the internet. It's functional, it loads fast, it doesn't have a stack built of buzzwords and bullshit. It works on every device everywhere. I mean, what business does a page have being megabytes and megabytes if it's gonna display a couple bytes of text? None. It doesn't matter if it's "technically free" these days, that's just bad design and engineering.


I agree with you, but I still think they could benefit from at least having an app that loads their website. Craigslist is represented in app-stores by unofficial 3rd party apps that aren't very good. Users may have bad experiences with those apps, which Craigslist may want to prevent or control.

Some people might think (incorrectly) that their lack of presence in app stores means the company isn't focused on mobile or that their platform is not intended to be used on mobile.

There are benefits to having a mobile app over just a mobile website, such as mobile notifications, consistent/better authentication, being featured on users' home screens (next to LetGo, OfferUp, etc.) instead of hidden away in a web browser app. I would think that Craigslist would find their users to be more engaged with an app.


Craiglist design actually sucks. When I first used it, the whole thing was almost revolting from design perspective. Where some people see simplicity, others see utter lack of modernity, friendliness and affordability. I still can't get some of my relative to use it (they ask me to post on their behalf!). Before you cite page counts, revenues and unique users, think about how many people are not using it despite the fact everyone has heard about it and everyone has a need to sell something on and off. Amazon UX is almost complete opposite of craiglist but is usable by much much wider audience.


I mean, we can't prove who "isn't" using it. We can prove that millions and millions of people are using it and seem to be content with it; we can provide anecdotal accounts (including by many people in this thread) that the simplicity and straightforwardness and consistency is what brings them back to the site. I can tell you that everyone I know looks at Craigslist when they're looking for apartments. But I get that you don't like it; I just think you need to acknowledge that's a preference, rather than an objective fact.


I use CL to advertise for my manufacturing business. It delivers 95% of our customers to our online store, and it does it for a monthly advertising budget of $270. We have $15-30k monthly revenue from these customers.

Craigslist's design works for us.


I like websites that don't change. I can come back to Craigslist once or twice a year, year after year, and it's exactly what I remembered. No hunting around, no discovering new gestures and behaviors. It's simple, obvious, and it for what it does, it works.


Just imagine the number of people that would immediately reject craigslist if it got a clever 'redesign.' It has worked the same way is forever and there are people who are not incredibly computer literate who rely on it. If craigslist moved as fast as facebook then in my opinion I think it would have been already been replaced.


Craigslist has the best mobile app out there. It can be found at https://www.craigslist.org


That is the correct answer - provided that your parent was serious.

I cling to the hope that your parent was actually joking.


I wasn't joking, but I clarified my question in response to another comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14343964


What for? The website is simple enough to render fine on mobile devices, and it avoids the whole app ecosystem and update issues.


The question should be: why all the others have mobile apps?


The mobile site is really good. Hell, even the regular site has incredible usability and is very lightweight. It might not look as pretty as GumTree, but it's very usable.


You know how Snapchat made their platform "app-only" and designed the UX to "keep out the olds"? This is like that but the opposite.


The very first sentence of the article - "On March 1, 1995, fired off an email to his friends." - is not a valid sentence, it's missing the subject! facepalm


Aha, I was viewing it at https://outline.com/xX7xe3 but in fact his name IS present and hyperlinked in the original article, so it's Outline.com that's at fault.

UPDATE: I've reported the issue to Outline.com


Great service for selling used electronics, renting out an apartment, or sucking a strange man's penis.


I guess that explains your username.


Or renting out a strange man's electrodong


Forbes is unequivocally the worst website I have the displeasure of being linked to on a regular basis. Readability is quickly approaching 0. This page kept hijacking my scroll thru the article to keep an ad at the top of my window. Horrible, horrible, horrible.


I honestly don't even bother anymore:

https://outline.com/xX7xe3


Pro-tip:

Add outline.com/ to the front of the article's URL. Much faster and works nicely on mobile.


Thank you!



Nice! I didn't know that. Thanks!


Thank you!


Firefox + NoScript + Reader View seems to help

tho I used uBlock to forbid 'weird' stuff

ah I've set my UI to always use my colors :D white over black background


>ah I've set my UI to always use my colors :D white over black background

How do you specify that? Are you using Stylish or something?


In Firefox 53:

Go to Preferences ("Options" on Windows), select the "Content" section, click the "Colors..." button, and change the "Override the colors specified by the page with your selections above" dropdown to "Always".

In current nightly:

Go to Preferences/Options, select the "General" section, scroll down to the "Colors..." button in the "Fonts & Colors" part, then as above.


Is there an equivalent option in firefox prior to version 52 ? I'm forever stuck to firefox before version 52 because 52 is the release that dropped support for having sound in the browser with no intent of going back.


The dropdown that's in 53 has been there since Firefox 37.

Before Firefox 37 it was just a "Allow pages to choose their own colors" checkbox (which you could uncheck). _That_ UI goes back to at least Firefox 3.5. Likely earlier (I'm pretty sure it was in 1.0 as well), but I don't have anything older than that on hand at the moment.

On a separate note, I assume your "having sound" thing refers specifically to Linux and even more specifically to Linux systems without PulseAudio, right? Characterizing that as a blanket "dropped support for having sound" is at bit disingenuous.


exactly

but I also changed the below in about:config

* browser.display.background_color

* browser.display.foreground_color


Note that there is UI for changing them in that "Colors..." section in preferences.


duly noted

I just find it faster to use keyboard instead of mouse :D


I couldn't tell as trying to access the article is hijacked and redirected to https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL= and stay stuck there until I start disabling privacy measures and allow scripting.

I won't even try clicking another forbes link from now on.


Overall, most press/journalism sites I use are terrible. Performance stinks, flash everywhere, ads that nobody clicks on. Horrible.


Not to mention all the "adblock detected" crap. I used to disable adblock, but anymore I just give up and go away. They can all FOAD for all I care.


Get an anti-adblock killer list, it's great :)

I basically enable every list in uBlock. Suprisingly it almost never blocks too much, when I get blocked it's consequently for being on a VPN.


Sometimes it's just css, and hitting the "readbility" button will strip out the junk.

Also, I won't go to a journalism site without NoScript or Focus, too painful without.


That's an inevitability at this point.


It kind of blows my mind that even real, serious journalism outlets cheapen their product like this (nearing the mid-2000s music lyrics website threshold).

Got a NYT digital subscription to see if it was worth it, and I like it. Would be more likely to keep going if it extended to other publishers, and I could consistently access an ad-free, ad-blocker gate free experience.



I had to copy the text and paste it into Notepad to actually read the article.


Have a bookmarklet:

  javascript:(function()%7Bwindow.location.href %3D 'https%3A%2F%2Foutline.com%2F' %2B window.location.href%7D)()
It'll open the article using https://outline.com/. E.g. https://outline.com/xX7xe3


very nice, wish could've vote more :D

set as bookmark shortcut in Fx already :D


Wow


Is it possible to consume good quality content with Atom feeds? Are Atom feeds a viable alternative to sites like Forbes?


It's not too bad if you disable all:

- 1st party scripts

- 3rd party scripts

- 3rd party frames

It's a shame that it is necessary but it's simple enough in uBlock.


This, a million times this.


Honestly. I despise clicking on Forbes.com for this ad spam.


Forbes is the one known for saying "Stop the Ad Blocker" then serving Pop Under Malware:

https://www.engadget.com/2016/01/08/you-say-advertising-i-sa...


Craigslist has one of the worst UX. How come has it not been improved in years?

Why doesn't Craigslist get any competition? It should be trivial to implement something that's 10 times better...


Counterpoint: their UX works perfectly well for them (see: $690m in revenue) and any proposed overhaul would carry potentially disastrous costs (see: Digg's site-killing redesign). Redesigning for the sake of change is not inherently good.

Also, on a personal level, I've come to appreciate CL's design, and I very much appreciate its consistency. I don't use CL all the time - I go to it sometimes for things like furniture I know I can't get too attached to, or rental listings. It took a little time investment maybe 15 years ago to learn how the site worked, but once you know how it works, it's fairly easy to navigate, and they have never required me to relearn the site, no matter how long I go without using it. There's serious value in that. Add in the network effect that's killing the new apps trying to challenge it and you have a behemoth.


> Digg's site-killing redesign

Wasn't that all because they entirely changed the content model though? It wasn't just a UI change. Wasn't it because paid-for-junk was going to be most of what was in your face or something of that nature?


Sure, but that's a UX change, and that's what the parent was suggesting for CL.


Just because they both are UX changes doesn't mean the parent was suggesting the same changes.


Because, as best I can tell, many more people actually like the ultra-simple UX than dislike it.

I wish more sites would go retro. It really is a breath of fresh air after so many sites that make me feel like I'm fighting my way through the "experience" they're trying to shove down my series of tubes.


I'm all for simplicity. What I also like is consistency. Craigslist's UI is not consistent.


My theory is because Craigslist deeply rooted network effects in the low end of the market.

Competing in the low end means that its a volume based game because each unit of value (each craigslist posting) is low. A new company trying to gain momentum capturing a small user base does't work because in this smaller stage of the company you have no network effects.

If you try to steal those low end customers with a 10x product, you will spend a ton of money to capture users that aren't very valuable.

If you make something that adds 10x more value, with people who want 10x in value, then by design you work yourself out of Craigslist's turf like AirBnB (they started hacky low end but now are moving into higher end listings to drive growth).

in short, I believe there is a valley of death when you try "siege tactics" on Craigslist's network effects.


I don't think you should have been down-voted but I don't think you understand.

Craigslist is so popular because of its simplicity. It's quick. It's light. It's easy.

It works and it works well.

I don't think there are many potential customers out there thinking "You know what the world needs? Craigslist for web 2.0 with AJAX, JSON, HTML5 and Flash elements."

If you think I'm misreading the marketplace, please feel free to launch your own competitor. I'll happily check it out, at least once.


Craigslist doesn't work well though. It looks fine. It loads quickly. But the overall usage to complete your goal is terrible compared to a modern app in the same space such as Tinder or AirBnB.


Tinder doesn't even have a desktop site/app so that's not a good example.

I also disagree, I think overall usage to complete your goal is fine, it looks a little old but whatever.


What's wrong with their UX? You click on a category to narrow the scope and then search using the searchbar. The only time it is an issue is if you aren't sure what category you want or maybe you aren't quite sure where you live.

Listings can be a mixed bag, but that's entirely user data so it's hard to fault Craigslist too much. IMHO it's better than having some 5 page form you have to fill out every time you list something which people will just screw up anyway.


You're right. Just because everyone uses it, doesn't mean it's "good". By making most ads free, Craigslist dominates the market even though they have a poor product. Take these examples:

- Buy a car. Poor make/model/year metadata requires loose searches to identify cars with keywords. So you end up sorting through irrelevant cars, or missing out on the ones you want to see.

- Find an apartment. Map search was finally introduced after Padmapper did it. Before then, you could search by the names of neighborhoods, but then you'd have the same problem: sort through tons of mis-categorized results, or miss out on the apartments you wanted to see.

- Buy used electronics. Again, poor category metadata. Want to buy a MacBook Pro, or iPhone 7? Good luck manually sorting through results that include the word "retina" or "non-retina" - or similar issues.

- Advertise your business. Great news, ads are free! Bad news: the flagging system is terribly abused, and there's no recourse because "it's free" and "the community does the flagging".

In all these cases, whether I'm the buyer or the seller, I'd much rather pay a small transaction fee or advertising fee for a better marketplace. But usually, craigslist dominates. They don't dominate because the product is good, they dominate because of network effects and an artificially low (free) price for most listing categories.


When I hard reload the Craigslist home page for my state, it downloads right around 150 kb.

That is a thing of beauty.


>> When I hard reload the Craigslist home page for my state, it downloads right around 150 kb.

>> That is a thing of beauty.

I really find it sad that it's such an anomaly.


Text-only content does not make a ton of sense for a whole lot of websites.


A few graphics shouldn't cause much bloat, and there is way too much JS out there today. IMHO of course.


> and there is way too much JS out there today

Heh, well unfortunately the web doesn't get much in the way of alternative : (


> How come has it not been improved in years?

Because it works. It's simply, "good enough.


Good enough is not enough.


A couple quotes I recall from ENG 101: "Better is the enemy of good enough." and "Simple is the most advanced tech."

Believe it or not, non-tech people do not want to learn the latest, greatest UI. They want it to work. Full stop. The shiny new attack surfaces....er,... features and the vicious circle of security breaches & updates may well extinguish the public's enthusiasm for "new". Ever see an average Iphone or Android user after a nightly upgrade? It isn't pretty when a user's functionality/productivity is torpedoed by a new design +/- features of new OS. As a tech savvy pro, however, YMMV.


There is nothing wrong with good enough. It's the perfectly acceptable middle ground.


What's wrong with the UI? If I could change one thing about craiglist it would be the junk/scammers.

Competition for craigslist is hard because of network effects.


The comment you responded to specifically mentioned UX, not UI. Junk and scammers are definitely part of the UX.


What isn't?


I can't think of anything at this exact moment that does not contribute to UX. My response was regarding the assumption that the parent comment of mine equating UI with UX.


> It should be trivial to implement something that's 10 times better...

What would you be optimizing for? What changes could you make that wouldn't increase the page size or slow the loading speed?


- Global / Region search

- Alerts

- Some kind of historical record of ads

- Increased focus on listing from your mobile phone (camera)


Craigslist has alerts:

    https://www.craigslist.org/about/saved_searches_and_alerts
I think your idea of making it easier to post from a phone is a good one. For things like global search, I'm pretty sure that's made difficult to do intentionally.


- Make the UI consistent

- Stop using abbreviations everywhere (at least in the French version)

- Add structure and semantics to content (not just some blank text fields where people type arbitrary descriptions)

- Improve classification using image recognition and mechanical turks

- Make an open API available

- Get rid of sub-domains

- Add trust/reputation mechanisms


> Add trust/reputation mechanisms

This seems like a good idea on the surface but it's ultimately exclusionary. If I want to sell something really occasionally how much trouble do have to go through to maintain this reputation.

As it stands, I still can't participate in stack overflow effectively because of their heavy-handed reputation system.


I think you are confused as to what Craigslist is/wants to be.

Wtf is wrong with subdomains?

There's nothing inconsistent about the UI.


> There's nothing inconsistent about the UI.

Are you kidding me?

http://i.imgur.com/xMOtMuH.png


They do have competition. Every deal I've done either selling or buying second-hand things has been through OfferUp. It's amazing and miles ahead of Craigslists' horrible UX.


Craigslist has competition. However, it works really well, loads very fast, and makes a lot of money. There's no motivation, then, to make the UX "better."


No motivation? How about not making your users miserable?


They aren't. I love that simple, fast, lean interface.

Learned it once, done, works when I need it.


They'd make me miserable if they ever abandoned it. I love their functional, predictable, useful, uncomplicated design. It does exactly what it needs to and nothing more. I never feel like anyone is trying to coerce me into their way of looking at the world; it's just a classified-ads database.


No matter what they do, they're going to make someone miserable.

As it stands, they've chosen to make the people who don't use the site miserable.

I'm not sure why you'd expect them to make the people who do use it miserable.




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