WWCD? What Would Craigslist Do?

April 1, 2010

Meet Craig Newmark. You may not recognize him if he walked past you, but you’ve probably heard of the website he started. Craigslist. With an estimated 48.7 million people visiting his site a month from the U.S. alone, Craigslist is in a league of its own.

While it continues to climb in traffic, one thing continues to stay consistent: the lack of change. Unlike sites like Apple, where the main page seems to change every other day, Craigslist has had the same bland user interface that everyone has now become accustomed to seeing. Aside from minor changes here and there, Craigslist has made little change to their website for the most part. With no future plans to change the site nor many of its policies, with online engagement and social media on the rise, the question now becomes: What Would Craigslist Do?

No Thanks

“No Thanks.” That is the answer that you would probably get if you asked Craigslist about making a change to the site. Starting at first as an email distribution list for friends in 1995, Craigslist has gone through hundreds and thousands of ’suggestions’ with few changes since then.

Although Craigslist generates revenue solely through paid job ads in select cities, it’s not that they can’t find other means, it’s that they won’t. To many, this is mind boggling, but to Craigslist, its just another day. By no means should anyone worry though, analysts suggest that Craigslist will bring in over $100 million this year from their paid job ads.

Why They Won’t Change

No one can pinpoint the exact reason why Craigslist doesn’t take advantage of the many opportunities they have, but many will agree is that if Craigslist did decide too, they would change the e-commerce landscape.

With just 30 employees, Craigslist gets more traffic than leading e-commerce sites eBay and, each of whom have more than 15,000 employees. Take that into account also the fact that their customer service has been called out for being unresponsive and unhelpful along with it being accused of facilitating prostitution, it is incredible how far they have come.

Door Is Closing

As of right now, Craigslist is in a league of their own. They dominate their market in helping individuals conduct face to face transactions and have yet to have had a serious contender. Still, the question becomes how long will they go without a challenge. When MySpace broke out on the scene, they were seemingly untouchable. Then came Facebook and later, Twitter. Although Craigslist has ruled their market for almost 10 years, everyday they don’t make a move, someone else is.

Craig Newmark may never be as recognizable as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but perhaps if he changed his name to Craigslist he would be. Nevermind, Craigslist doesn’t change for anyone. Even for Craig himself.


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