20 Facts about Craigslist, the world’s community bulletin board

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Are you looking to buy a used car, find a used barbecue for sale or rent a new apartment? How about get a better job, sell a fish tank, or even meet local people doing fun things in your area? If you’re like many people in the U.S., you might be turning to Craigslist.

In fact, Craigslist (craigslist.org to be specific) is the world’s biggest online classified ads section and community form, devoted to posting personal notices for jobs, housing, items for sale, services, things buyers want, community happenings and events, and yes, even personals.

While chances are you’ve used the site once or twice (or a dozen times,) here are 25 facts about craigslist that you probably didn’t know:

1. Craigslist originated literally as “Craig’s List” when Craig Newmark, a San Francisco computer programmer, started emailing a list of local events and notices to his circle of friends in 1995 since he was new in town and thought it was a good way to bring the community together.

2. By 1996, Craig’s list had grown so big and popular that he moved the whole thing to a web-based service instead of email exchange, expanding his original content and adding new categories for users. As of 1999 Newmark had incorporated his exploding project and opened it up to nine new U.S. cities, all operated by only nine employees.

3. Fast forward 20 years from its inception, and Craigslist now has at least 60 million U.S. users and 50 billion page views every month, as well as 50 million daily queries.

4. Each month, users post more than 100 million individual classified ads, of which 2 million are job listings.

5. “The List” isn’t just for buying and selling or finding a job, as it also runs also sees 200 million posts in its discussion forums every month.

6. Craigslist users view 9.2 million ads for used cars on the site every day. But by far the most popular forums are the “for sale” and “housing” sections, which get about 300,000 new postings every day in the 23 largest cities of the U.S. alone.

7. To put its popularity in perspective, Craigslist is the 7th most viewed website in the United States.

8. With more than 700 local Craigslist sites in 70 countries, it’s also the 33rd most visited website on the entire planet!

9. In fact, Craigslist is offered not only in English, but Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, Filipino, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish languages.

10. But before you start thinking that Craigslist must have a Google-esque infrastructure and employee base, the operation actually has less than 40 employees and operated out of an old Victorian home in the Sunset District in San Francisco (1381 9th Ave.) up until 2010.

11. That year, the company signed a six-year sublease for more than 14,000 square feet of office space at 222 Sutter Street in San Francisco, allowing them to expand up to 70 employees if need be.

12. Craigslist was always notorious for not disclosing financial records or ownership information, as founder Craig Newmark and early partners chose to keep all proprietary information close to the vest. Therefore, it’s hard to estimate Craigslist’s earnings, with estimates ranging from $10 million of revenue in 2004 up to $150 in 2007 as it grew. As of 2008, one analyst pegged Craigslist as being worth $5 billion, which it could have easily eclipsed by 2016 if true.

13. But why is it Craigslist.ORG and not .COM considering that Craigslist is incorporated as a for-profit. In fact, they use the domain registrant .org to signify the non-commercial philosophy of the company and reinforce their mission to public service over profit.

14. So how does Craigslist make money? While most listings in most places are free, the site does charge for certain postings in some of its 28 metro markets. In fact, Craigslist generates revenue by charging:
$75 to post job ads in San Francisco
$25 for job ads in 18 other cities
$10 for ads offering brokered apartments in New York City
$10 for ads for adult services

In fact, Craigslist receives about 33% of its total revenue from adult service ads!

15. “CL” is a common nickname for Craigslist, and they even use the alternative web address cl.com.

16. Most people don’t realize that the web auction giant eBay owns 25% of Craigslist, after acquiring those shares from a former stockholder and partner in 2004. But the marriage turned sour quickly. Craigslist had fears that eBay wouldn’t buy into a business philosophy about service, not dollars, and sure enough, eBay sued Craigslist in 2008 to “safeguard its financial investment.” The two battled in court with suits and counter suits until 2015, when eBay divest its stake back to Craigslist for an undisclosed amount.

17. A fast-growing trend on Craigslist is the “barter” section, where people trade items, services, and just about everything else you could imagine. In fact, bartering more than doubled on Craigslist between 2007 and 2008 alone, after its roll out. It’s still one of the most popular areas of the community based website.

18. With millions of daily posts, just monitoring for inappropriate and sketchy content could take a whole battalion of Craigslist employees. But the company long ago instituted an ingenious flagging system that essentially allowed community users to be the first line of defense against bad content. Any Craigslist user can flag a post they see if they believe it to be in violation of Craigslist guidelines. If a post is flagged a certain number of times or under certain conditions, it automatically comes down off the site. They don’t even need to log in and the person who raised the flag remains totally anonymous.

19. Craigslist isn’t just “internet famous;” it’s penetrated into other media and forms of entertainment. In fact, the televisions news show 24 Hours did an episode that delved into Craigslist, and it’s also been featured on Showtime’s Dexter, The New Girl, and even an off-Broadway show!

20.  In January 2000, Jim Buckmaster joined Craigslist to work as lead programmer and Chief Technology Officer. He made huge contributions to the site that didn’t go unnoticed, as he was promoted to CEO by November of that year! It seems that Buckmaster is a Craigslist “lifer” because he still serves as CEO and embodies all the company stands for. In fact, in 2006 at the Global Media Conference, Buckmaster announced that Craigslist still had “little interest in maximizing profit, and instead preferred to help users find cars, apartments, jobs and dates.”


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