(Via IHT)Craigslist draws 10 million unique visitors each month without ever relying on venture capital and equity markets and ranked the fourth most visited general purpose portal on the net.
Craigslist is a privately held company and its management regards profit, which it has earned consistently since 1999, as merely the means to remain in control of its own destiny. Free of debt, it can do as it wishes to maximize what it calls its service mission without having to maximize earnings. Like eBay, it began as a free community service that year, a little experiment in applying technology to community-building, not profit-seeking. Unlike eBay, which is dedicated to removing geographic obstacles to trading and defines "community" along national boundaries, Craigslist thinks and acts locally, organizing listings city by city for merchandise, jobs, real estate, personal ads, events, volunteer opportunities and discussion forums. It has moved slowly but at today, it has sites for 120 cities in 25 countries and serves up 2.4 billion pages a month.
Craig Newmark, its founder, remains protective of the noncommercial character of the site and today,99.2 percent of Craigslist advertisements remain free. Executives at eBay have their own reasons to lie awake thinking about Craigslist. EBay, the child prodigy that went the corporate route and became a publicly traded company after three years, now faces sharply declining growth and that awful fate that no prodigy is ever prepared for: middle age. Nielsen/NetRatings show that eBay's page views in April 2005 were up less than 0.5 percent from the previous April. At Craigslist, page views grew 130 percent in the same period and the traffic is now about one-fifth the volume of eBay's. And the operational efficiencies are astounding: Craigslist has 18 employees; eBay has 8,800.