San Francisco, CA

The Origin of Craigslist - San Francisco's Classified Advertisement Website

Richard Fang

It still hasn't changed since it launched in 1995

Everyone knows Craigslist. It's one of America's most popular classified advertisement website that focuses on helping people find jobs, for sale items, and the occasional weird request.

Even though it is still used by millions today, it still hasn't changed the look and feel. It's now used in over 70 countries and still a privately traded company.

It has kept the old look from the 90s but still remains popular as ever.

But many might not know the origins.

If it isn’t obvious by the name, Craigslist was started by Craig Newmark in 1995 when he was working at IBM.

At the time, he had just moved to San Francisco for a job and was in a period of his life where he attended local programming events and had been meeting with others in his field at these gatherings.

He was becoming a regular at meetups, but there wasn’t an easy way to share these events with the friends he made (at the time, at least). This prompted him to start an email list to help update others on what events were happening around the time.

This became a huge hit and was a small side project Craig worked on. It meant he could still work on his day job and as it didn’t take too much of his time in the evenings to manage the list.

Eventually, it expanded beyond events

Although events were the original focus, people started using it for other things such as renting out apartments or selling furniture. When it became too crowded, and emails were being spammed, Craig decided to move the email list onto a website instead.
AIM Group

He called it ‘Craigslist’ and actually continued to work on it as a side project for several years before officially going full-time.

Today it is still operating with a net income of $500 million with only a handful of employees. In 2000, current CEO Jim Buckmaster joined the company as lead programmer and CTO.

He implemented multi-city architecture, search engines, forums, and more into the backend of the system so Craigslist could expand. In the same year, it had finally managed to expand beyond San Francisco and into nine more US cities. By 2003, it has expanded this number into 22 more cities.

Today, the company is still owned by Newmark and Buckmaster (eBay, had purchased a 25% stake into the company when a former employee sold their share but eventually shredded its stake after a lawsuit).

It is still bringing in a tonne of numbers
Austin Distel / Unsplash

Today the website still brings in 20 billion page views per month, making it the 72nd most popular website globally and 11th in the states alone.

Although job listing sites like LinkedIn and Indeed exist today, Craigslist is still one of the most popular websites to look for jobs, with more than 2 million new job listings per month.

Even with its massive revenue numbers and views, the company is still only ran by around 50 people and has not changed much of its strategy since.

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Editor at CornerTech and Marketing @richardfliu on Twitter


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