Ebay recently launched a competitor to Craigslist called Kijiji. Besides the obvious hard to pronounce (but fairly easy to remember) name, there is another reason why this site doesn’t make much sense. Ebay has a 25% stake in Craigslist.
Now most who follow the technology, and more specifically Web 2.0, industry, know that the owner and founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark, isn’t making this website for profit. No listing fees, no ads on the site, etc. Newmark reportedly makes about 25 million dollars a year on Craigslist which is nothing compared to the profit that could be made. But still, having a quarter stake in the website, you’d think that Ebay could make some impact on Newmark’s decision making process. (and they could.) Creating a whole new network, starting with zero users, doesn’t make sense when you could control some of what goes on in the most popular one on the internet.
Instead of starting their own, Ebay should start working with Craigslist, to update the look of the site (a place where Kijiji does beat out Craigslist), and start cracking down on fraud and spam, thus making the site more appealing to a more mainstream audience.
But still, the part most people see missing to this equation is monetization. Many say that Craigslist would start losing some of its most loyal members if they started charging to list, or started putting third party ads on their site. While this maybe in large part true, there are still other ways to make money. My proposal would be charging users to advertise their classifieds on the front page. Putting up the listing would still be free, and there would be no third party ads, but I’m willing to bet that plenty of people would be willing to pay extra to open up their listing to that much larger of an audience.