Type Private company
Founded 1995 (incorporated 1999)
Headquarters San Francisco, United States
Area served 570 cities in 50 countries
Founder(s) Craig Newmark
Key people Jim Buckmaster (CEO)
Services Web communications
Alexa rank 49 (April 2014[update])
Type of site Classifieds, forums
Available in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
Current status Active
Craigslist (styled craigslist) is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.
Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 as an email distribution list to friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996 and expanding into other classified categories. It started expanding to other U.S. cities in 2000, and currently covers 50 countries.
In March 2008, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese became the first non-English languages supported. As of August 9, 2012, over 700 "cities" in 70 countries have Craigslist sites. Some Craigslist sites cover large regions instead of individual metropolitan areas—for example, the U.S. states of Delaware and Wyoming, the Colorado Western Slope, the California Gold Country, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are among the locations with their own Craigslist sites.
Having observed people helping one another in friendly, social, and trusting communal ways on the Internet via the WELL, MindVox and Usenet, and feeling isolated as a relative newcomer to San Francisco, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark decided to create something similar for local events. In early 1995, he began an email distribution list to friends. 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 the San Francisco Bay Area.
Soon, word of mouth led to rapid growth. The number of subscribers and postings grew rapidly. There was no moderation and Newmark was surprised when people started using the mailing list for non-event postings. People trying to get technical positions filled 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. The initial technology encountered some limits, so by June 1995 majordomo had been installed and the mailing list "Craigslist" resumed operations. Community members started asking for a web interface. Craig registered "craigslist.org", and the website went live in 1996.
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. Craigslist incorporated as a private for-profit company in 1999. Around the time of these events, 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 in San Francisco.
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.
The web site expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four in 2001 and 2002 each, and 14 in 2003. 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 called "Gigs" was added, where low-cost and unpaid jobs and internships can be posted free.
The site serves over 20 billion page views per month, putting it in 37th place overall among web sites worldwide and 10th place overall among web sites in the United States (per Alexa.com on March 24, 2011), with over 49.4 million unique monthly visitors in the United States alone (per Compete.com on January 8, 2010). With over 80 million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over 2 million new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. The 23 largest U.S. cities listed on the Craigslist home page collectively receive more than 300,000 postings per day just in the "for sale" and "housing" sections as of October 2011. The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements to personal ads.
In 2009, Craigslist operated with a staff of 28 people.
Financials and ownership
In December 2006, at the UBS Global Media Conference in New York, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead it prefers to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.
Craigslist's main 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 City, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Orange County (California) and Portland, Oregon—and paid broker apartment listings in New York City ($10 per ad).
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.
On August 13, 2004, Newmark announced on his blog that auction giant eBay had purchased a 25% stake in the company from a former employee. Some fans of Craigslist expressed concern that this development would affect the site's longtime non-commercial nature. As of April 2012[update], there have been no substantive changes to the usefulness or non-advertising nature of the site—no banner ads, charges for a few services provided to businesses.
The company 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.
In April 2008, eBay announced that it was suing Craigslist to "safeguard its four-year financial investment". eBay claimed in January 2008 that Craigslist executives took actions that "unfairly diluted eBay's economic interest by more than 10%". In response, Craigslist filed a counter-suit against eBay in May 2008 to "remedy the substantial and ongoing harm to fair competition" that Craigslist claims is constituted by eBay's actions as Craigslist shareholders.
As of 2012, mashup sites such as padmapper.com and housingmaps.com were overlaying Craigslist data with Google Maps and adding their own search filters to improve usability. In June 2012, Craigslist changed its terms of service to disallow the practice. In July 2012, Craigslist filed a lawsuit against padmapper.com.
Over the years Craigslist has become a very popular online destination for arranging for dates, and sex. The personals section allows for postings that are for "strictly platonic", "dating/romance", and "casual encounters".
The site has been found to be particularly appealing to help connect lesbians, and gay men with one another because of its free and open nature in addition to it being hard to find gay people in one's area for some.