How Does Craigslist Make Money—Explained 2019

Craig Newmark supported Craigslist to grant Back, currently he is A wealthy person

On March 1, 1995, Craig Newmark pink-slipped off AN email to his friends. Having been arranged faraway from his job at Charles Schwab,

Wherever he had explored the first promise of the web as a pc engineer, he determined he had reached a time in his life to “give back.”

Using his severance package and new time without work, Newmark launched a listing of point of entry art and technology events that may eventually morph into an internet site called

It absolutely was 5 months before on-line browser company browser went public, an online coming-of-age moment, that was followed a couple of weeks later by Microsoft business executive Steve Ballmer manus pumping on stage like AN intoxicated minor at the launch of the Windows ninety five software package.

That Dec, a association of technology corporations proclaimed customary specifications for the videodisc, a brand new medium to deliver videos.

While browser, Ballmer and DVDs have mostly been replaced over the past twenty two years, has persisted joined of the last true dot-com era holdovers to still dominate the online.

The web classifieds service was the 46th-most-visited web site within the U.S.

In March, in line with comScore, attracting some fifty nine million distinctive visitors—more than and also the web site for the Wall Street Journal.

It is also AN unbelievably prospering business, conveyance in enough cash by Forbes estimates to create Craig Newmark a wealthy person.

For a recent magazine story, Forbes explored whether or not 2 well-financed startups, OfferUp and Letgo, have an endeavor at displacing Craigslist, that continues to be

Wherever most Americans head to obtain and sell domestically on-line.

With similar commerce experiences developed as mobile apps, OfferUp and Letgo combined have raised nearly $600 million and area unit heading in the right direction to facilitate the group action of over $40 billion in product this year.

Neither, however, can create any vital revenue from those transactions, and each can pay millions on selling and growth, raising the question: What specifically area unit they up against?

The answer: A moneymaker. Last year, Craigslist took in upwards of $690 million in revenue, most of that is net income, in line with AN estimate by the AIM cluster, AN Altamonte Springs, Florida-based analysis firm.

Supported valuations of comparable in public listed corporations as well as eBay EBAY +0%, Forbes cautiously estimates that Craigslist is value a minimum of $3 billion.

That produces Newmark, 64, UN agency owns a minimum of forty second of the corporate, value a minimum of $1.3 billion.

Newmark declined to comment for this text. Craigslist business executive Jim Buckmaster, the company’s solely different vital investor, didn’t reply to emailed requests for comment.

Susan MacTavish Best, a Craigslist voice, told Forbes that “we do not inquire into numbers that area unit bandied around by media, analysts or others, and ne’er have.”

In AN age of pre-revenue unicorns and overvalued school corporations, San Francisco-based Craigslist, that has ne’er raised one dollar in outside investment, is AN anomaly.

Having designed a wide used network, Newmark and Buckmaster have Saturday back and watched the bucks appear through the little set of classes wherever Craigslist charges for posting.

Whereas each have spoken in past interviews concerning ne’er aspiring to maximize revenue, Craigslist, that is often mistaken as a not-for-profit, makes extra money than most of the people suppose.

“Not A Typical Business”

“They aren’t a typical business in any capitalist sense of the word,” aforesaid the AIM cluster’s Peter Zollman.

“They might increase revenue to $6 billion or $7 billion a year tomorrow and there would not be abundant protesting.”

Though the overwhelming majority of classifieds area unit free, the corporate monetizes alittle set of classes, a follow that began in 1998 once it charged $25 for job postings in point of entry to hide web site prices.

Today, the corporate has instituted fees for job postings across the U.S.,

It additionally charges fees to list postings in classes as well as the big apple town flats, price ticket sales by brokers, vehicles offered by dealers and “therapeutics,” a section with offers for massages and different services that enforcement officers have aforesaid are a magnet for dirty harlotry.

AIM’s Zollman, UN agency known as his company’s Craigslist revenue estimate “conservative,” aforesaid the AIM cluster counts up listings for every class in numerous markets so multiplies that by the identified fee related to that listing.

(Fees will vary from $7 to $75 per posting, counting on location.)

One former Craigslist worker, UN agency spoke to Forbes on condition of namelessness, aforesaid that fees were at first introduced to counter spammers in notably competitive classes, like the big apple town lodging rentals.

“Eventually we tend to realised we tend to were creating a great deal of cash and it absolutely was over we wanted to only cowl prices,” the worker aforesaid, noting at one purpose within the early 2000s Craigslist was creating $40,000 each day on Bay space jobs ads alone.

“We might all do the mathematics, and we’d surprise wherever all the cash would go.”

That money has accumulated dramatically over the years. In 2015, the AIM Group, that has calculated Craigslist revenue since 2007, calculable that the corporate force in sales of concerning $396 million.

Its 2016 estimate of $694 million—an increase of seventy fifth over the previous year—came right down to the very fact that Craigslist bumped job posting fees in sure cities and instituted them for the primary time in others.

(In sixty two major markets, job postings accounted for $305 million in revenue in line with the AIM cluster.)

And those numbers could also be even higher. point of entry businessperson and capitalist Greg master believes the company’s revenue is overrun the nine-figure mark.

Because the founding father of 3Taps, master designed AN interface for programmers that force classifieds information from Craigslist ANd was in a position get an correct image of the whole variety of listings on the positioning.

He revealed a 2011 written report that pegged Craigslist’s annual revenue at $300 million, variety he aforesaid has definitely up as Craigslist has accumulated or unrolled a lot of fees.

Master isn’t any longer allowed to access Craigslist’s information when sinking a proceedings with the corporate for $1 million in 2015.

“There area unit 2 reasons why individuals do not perceive that Craigslist makes cash,” master aforesaid.

“First, the ‘.org’ domain primarily signifies a not-for-profit. additionally several charges area unit solely incurred by skilled organizations like automotive dealers, property dealers, or individuals within the skilled sex business.

Most of the people ne’er see any fees.”

Craigslist’s moneymaker

The revenue is nothing to blink at, however it is the company’s profit that’s most spectacular, aforesaid artificer Venture Partners’ Jeremy Levine.

Levine, UN agency has studied the corporate for years, noted that there area unit few operative costs—the company has solely fifty workers, server prices and legal bills—and calculable that it can be value anyplace from $5 billion to $10 billion.

In 2013, the AIM cluster calculable that Craigslist’s profit margins were between seventy nine and eighty four, translating to web profits of over $500 million on 2016’s revenues.

“One might argue that Craig Newmark, together with his simple-minded stubbornness and refusal to pioneer, created himself billions,” Levine aforesaid. “The guy should be banking $400 million a year.”

It’s unclear wherever Craigslist’s profits go. Former workers say there are not any lavish expenses at the corporate which there are not any major comes that the corporate reinvests in.

Forbes examined the newest money filings for the Craigslist Charitable Fund, the company’s giving arm, and located total disbursements of $20 million from 2012 to 2014.

The company might merely be banking those profits, or they may be flowing into the pockets of Newmark and Buckmaster, whose shareholdings were created public throughout a chronic battle within the courts with eBay.

In 2004, eBay bought a twenty eight.4% stake in Craigslist and spent years making an attempt to clone it, resulting in a seven-year fight that settled once eBay oversubscribed its shares back to Craigslist for AN covert quantity in 2015.

Before Craigslist repurchasing its shares from eBay, Newmark control a forty two.6% stake, whereas Buckmaster in hand twenty ninth. each stakes area unit presumptively higher currently following the eBay sale.

Forbes didn’t embrace any dividends that might have accumulated over the years from Craigslist’s profitable operations in Newmark’s web value calculation.

His web value, that might so be abundant higher, solely takes into consideration the worth of his stake in Craigslist supported a conservative estimate of the business’ valuation and his p.c possession.

Newmark’s Quiet Life

While Newmark could be a wealthy person, and sure has been for quite it slow, he has lived a comparatively modest life. Joshua Thayer,

UN agency worked at Craigslist for eleven years and left in 2012, known as it “ironic” that the corporate and Newmark over up creating cash,

As a result of they were simply making an attempt to act in straightness as “good web voters.”

“It was pretty clear that Jim or Craig weren’t turning around to support Republican causes with all the additional cash,” he said.

“They were doing a little quantity of fine, and that they weren’t taking fabulous vacations all the time, like spouting off to poplar tree.

There was nothing of the kind… and not a great deal of bullshit.”

At 64, Newmark has long aforesaid that he’s not concerned in management choices at Craigslist, tho’ he still continues to try to to client service.

He launched a brand new company,, in 2011 to develop on-line networks around his interests,

As well as aiding veterans and protective the public press. Last year, he created the Craig Newmark Foundation and committed to giving $6 million to journalism-related causes just like the Poynter Institute and Wikipedia.

“By monetizing Craigslist the means I did in 1999, I most likely gave away already ninetieth or a lot of of my potential web value,”

Newmark aforesaid in an exceedingly recent interview with the Nieman Journalism workplace.

“The principle is that if you’re alittle bourgeois making an attempt to place food on the table,

I’d such as you to stay the a hundred greenbacks or no matter for a classified instead of Maine taking it and perhaps giving back sometime a buck.”

Newmark additionally controversial any estimations of his web value and Craigslist’s business therein interview.

“Instead of getting billions of bucks, I actually have a figure abundant smaller than $400 [million],” he said.

“Tangentially—and indulge me—anything that estimates my web value or revenue for any price I’m hooked up to, anyone estimating that’s virtually definitely simply plain lying.

I actually have in mind a faux market intelligence cluster UN agency I won’t name.”

Through a voice, Newmark declined to debate his web value or Craigslist’s financials.

One former worker UN agency spoke with aforesaid that whereas workers at the corporate have received equity,

Most have accepted that the corporate can ne’er sell or go public which they’re going to ne’er notice any vital gains.

There’s no secondary marketplace for Craigslist shares, that person aforesaid, UN agency noted that in most cases once AN worker with equity leaves, the corporate merely buys it back for a group worth.

Over the years, Newmark has unemployed the thought that he would ever sell his stake within the company,

Remarking queries of the corporate’s semipermanent succession arrange once he and Buckmaster are not any longer acceptable administrate the company.

At a 2007 event in the big apple, he aforesaid it would not “feel right” to sell out.

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