Craigslist is a central network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with jobs, internships, housing, personals, erotic services, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories – and forums on various topics.
The service was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark for the San Francisco Bay Area. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four each in 2001 and 2002, and 14 in 2003. As of September 2007, Craigslist has established itself in approximately 450 cities in 50 countries.
Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 as an email distribution list of friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four in 2001 and 2002 each, and 14 in 2003.
In 2009, Craigslist operated with a staff of 28 people. Its main source of revenue is paid job ads in select cities – $75 per ad for the San Francisco Bay Area; $25 per ad for New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Orange County (California) and Portland, Oregon – and paid broker apartment listings in New York City ($10 per ad).
The site serves over twenty billion page views per month, putting it in 33rd place overall among web sites worldwide and 7th place overall among web sites in the United States (per Alexa.com on June 28, 2010), with over 49.4 million unique monthly visitors in the United States alone (per Compete.com on January 8, 2010). With over eighty million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over two million new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements to personal ads. Advertisements for "adult" (previously "erotic") services were initially given special treatment, then closed entirely on September 4, 2010, following a controversy over claims by state attorneys general that the advertisements promoted prostitution.
In December 2006, at the UBS Global Media Conference in New York, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead it prefers to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.
The company does not formally disclose financial or ownership information. Analysts and commentators have reported varying figures for its annual revenue, ranging from $10 million in 2004, $20 million in 2005, and $25 million in 2006 to possibly $150 million in 2007. It is believed to be owned principally by Newmark, Buckmaster, and eBay (the three board members). eBay owns approximately 25%, and Newmark is believed to own the largest stake.