CraigsList is an awesome local living resource. It doesn’t do daily deals, but it is a great resource for buying the things you need/want when it doesn’t really need to be new. When Craigslist is available in a community it quickly becomes the ultimate way to find an apartment or rental home, used car, etc. I don’t particularly like the search capability of the site, but it gets the job done and is very simple to use. There have been small improvements in some areas like searching for used cars and rental properties, but it is not about the slickness of the interface, it’s about the amount of stuff that is advertised!
Why is it so successful? It is a largely free online classified system. Being free to list means lots of people list their stuff on the site. Being free to look means lots of people look for stuff on the site. The perfect combination of a large inventory and lots of shoppers. If it’s free how does it stay in business? It charges “Ad fees for jobs in 18 cities, brokered NYC apartments, and therapeutic services.” And that pays the bills. It keeps costs down by letting communities police the content using the “flagging” system. I don’t think the owners are trying to make billions, or working toward a buyout or public offering. The site exists to provide a local community service in lots of communities around the world and to make a modest amount of money.
Craigslist did sell a monority interest to EBay for a lot of money. I believe they probably received way more money than the business’s financial performance probably deserved. For EBay I don’t think it was about buying a great business, or getting a good direct financial return on their investment. I’m sure EBay would close down Craigslist if they could, so let’s hope EBay never gets a bigger share of the company. Having failed to buy a controlling interest in Craigslist it appears that EBay has used its monority interest to gain insider information about Craigslist to better compete with them. It spears to me that EBay had also used it as a reason to launch harassing legal action. I’m sure the Craigslist founders wish they had never let EBay on the door.
If you have never bought or sold anything on Craigslist give it try! Pay attention to the site’s warnings about fraud. Keep all your money transactions local and simple, cash is best! If you list something, search for the competition to set a reasonable price. If there is a lot of competition, you will have to put up great pictures and be competitively priced, or the item may not sell. If it doesn’t sell have someone check out your post and give you some tips. This is a great way to clean out the garage and get a little cash, or fill it without breaking the bank.