craigslist is the best source for data on local exchange activity between seekers and providers of goods and services in the United States. Despite craigslist’s “.org” URL that suggests it operates as some sort of public community or under a not-for-profit corporate status, in reality, craigslist is very much a for-profit entity with a substantial minority shareholder by the name of eBay.
craigslist dominates the location-based exchange space on the Web with over 1.5 million new daily postings and over 40 million unique visitors per month–putting it in the top ten of U.S. websites visited. Furthermore, while many users think that craigslist is free, an analysis of its mix of 700 million+ annual postings indicates the organization has significant revenue. Per employee revenue at craigslist is well ahead of Google, facebook, Amazon, and/or any of the other Internet darlings in the marketplace.
How can this be and are the above cited numbers really believable?
For the uninitiated, first a bit of history: craigslist was started in 1995 by Craig Newmark as an email based listing of happenings in Craig’s San Francisco Bay Area world that he thought might be of interest to his peers. The number of users both reading the postings and adding new posts grew, locally first, and then exponentially in other U.S. cities, and eventually was extended to a scattershot of international metropolitan areas.