Wall Street Journal looks at Craigslist, the free classified service now serving 300 U.S. cities.
No one really questions that Craigslist could be bigger — much, much bigger. The company took in a relatively paltry $25 million or so in revenue last year, while its peers among the Internet’s top 10 raked in billions.
One industry analyst has estimated that Craigslist could generate 20 times that $25 million just by posting a couple of ads on each of its pages. If the estimate is to be believed, that’s half a billion dollars a year being left on the table. What kind of company turns up its nose at $500 million?
According to its CEO, Jim Buckmaster, a company fully focussed on one thing—delivering its brand promise to its customers. “If it’s not something that users are asking for,” he says, “we don’t consider it.”
I recently met Craig Newmark (creater and chief customer service rep of Craigslist) at the Corante 2006 Innnovative Marketing Conference, and came away utterly impressed with his humility and his historical understanding of humanity. More precisely, I got the distinct feeling that for all his geekdom, Craig is a man of the people, and an astute judge of human propensity.
Who needs oodles of moolah when you can be a visionary instead? Just because people love his brand now, doesn’t mean that they will when Craiglsit becomes just another money-hoarding online venture. I mean, its $25 million to run a list site. That’s not bad. Why try to take over the world? Look what’s happening to Wikipedia, folks.