Craigslist — it’s business, but not as we’ve known it

Jim Buckmaster, the Craigslist CEO who is speaking at Mesh in Toronto later this month, somehow doesn’t live up to his name.

Bucks — as in dollars — are not what the simple but successful classifieds site Craigslist is all about, as Buckmaster explains in an interview at Business Week:

It seems to make no sense to let a site be as useful as possible and pay no attention to the monetary side. But [generating more revenues] hasn’t been tempting. We enjoy working at Craigslist. Users like it, and we’re not sure what we would do with a big surplus of cash. We’d probably look at ways to give it away.

Maybe that’s why the Craigslist “favicon” — the little symbol that appears beside the site’s name when you add it to your favourites — is The peace symbol favicon for Craigslist, the peace symbol associated with hippies in the 1960s.

Craigslist ranks among the ten most popular US websites, and yet has only 24 staff. Buckmaster says that chasing more revenue would require hiring more staff and, well, it hardly seems worth the hassle.

We’re not looking to become a midsized company. We’re happy being a small company.

Most classifieds on Craigslist are free, and the site carries no paid search or display advertising.

Yet despite this apparently un-business-like approach, Craiglist is widely seen as adversely affecting the fortunes of other businesses, namely newspapers, where classified ads — what Rupert Murdoch once called “rivers of gold” — are drying up.

One thought on “Craigslist — it’s business, but not as we’ve known it

  1. Craigslist is a fantastic and immensely useful site! It is quite astonishing to know from your blog that even in today’s materialistic age, where money is everything, there are people who just want to do a good service to people without looking at reaping financial benefits out of it! But, come to think of it, I think one should not be philanthropic about such things. It doesn’t mean they should mint money in every way possible, but I think a few ads on the site would be quite harmless. And even if they were to donate the money they make for noble causes, well, wouldn’t that be great!

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