Craigslist Goes Evil

Craigslist will apparently not be helping any charities anytime soon:

Wendy Davis of MediaPost describes the presentation as a “a culture clash of near-epic proportions.” She recounts how UBS analyst Ben Schachter wanted to know how Craigslist plans to maximize revenue. It doesn’t, Mr. Buckmaster replied (perhaps wondering how Mr. Schachter could possibly not already know this). “That definitely is not part of the equation,” he said, according to MediaPost. “It’s not part of the goal.”

What I find offensive is that Jim Buckmaster and Craig Newmark are under the impression that money is evil. It’s not. It’s neutral.

For god sake take this money off the table and use it to cure AIDS. Do something good with it but for the love of god don’t just tear it up every month.

This is a market opportunity people. Craigslist is vulnerable. Create a community site competing with Craigslist and allow the community to vote on a charity to send the profits.

You’ll crush Craigslist.

Update:

If you had the choice between adding a few text link ads in an elegant manner on Craiglist or feeding 5k children in Africa for six months would you honestly let these kids die of hunger?


  1. Kevin, we didn’t say or imply anything about money being evil.

    PLEASE ask me before leaping to conclusions like that, okay?

    Thanks!

    Craig

  2. Tech Bee

    I support Craiglist. I don’t think gorging on food during corporate charity balls and diners as really new or enticing.

  3. Kevin, I can see your point about turning unused ad space into money that could help people, but I think there’s another way to look at it.

    The fact is, the absence of ads on CraigsList represents value for users. How big a value is it to not have to see a few ads? My own feeling is that it’s not all that big, but I think it’s safe to say that most people would choose a site without ads over one with ads if given the choice. And since there’s no shortage of CraigsList imitators, that translates to what could be a very important competitive advantage.

    So you can view the decision to not run ads as a bet: a bet that in the long term, this will enable CraigsList to keep their lead in the market. Sure, they could run ads now and send a few billion to charity, but that would be short-lived as they lost users. GM could sell all their assets and send it all to charity too, but there wouldn’t be any GM in the morning.

    Now I have no idea if Craig or anyone else at CraigsList thinks of it this way, but you can view this decision as the application of a straightforward business philosophy: listen to your users fanatically and give them exactly what they want as long as you can cover costs. By never building any excess profit cushion into your business, you never leave the door open to a competitor to undercut you. And as a bonus, customers love you.

    I would even say that as everything about building web apps gets easier and easier, this might well become one of the only ways to build a sustainable business on the Internet! In any case, I certainly wouldn’t call it “evil”.

  4. > Kevin, I can see your point about turning unused ad space into money that could
    > help people, but I think there’s another way to look at it.

    > The fact is, the absence of ads on CraigsList represents value for users. How
    > big a value is it to not have to see a few ads? My own feeling is that it’s
    > not all that big, but I think it’s safe to say that most people would choose a
    > site without ads over one with ads if given the choice.

    Of course they would. However the fact that they’re selecting the site without
    out ads represents a loss in economy for Craigslist.

    Google has proven that users are willing to use a service even after they’ve
    added text ads.

    This isn’t a choice between a site with or without ads it’s a choice between a
    site without ads and one with TEXT ads. I’m NOT arguing for flash ads or even
    graphical ads.

    > And since there’s no shortage of CraigsList imitators, that translates to what
    > could be a very important competitive advantage.

    Hopefully.

    > So you can view the decision to not run ads as a bet: a bet that in the long
    > term, this will enable CraigsList to keep their lead in the market. Sure, they
    > could run ads now and send a few billion to charity, but that would be
    > short-lived as they lost users.

    No. They’d gain users. Users would be more than happy to know that millions of
    dollars a year were being spent on charity.

    Again. Adding advertising to a site does not have a correlation to loss of user
    base.

    > GM could sell all their assets and send it all to charity too, but there
    > wouldn’t be any GM in the morning.

    I think this is a false dicotomy.

    > Now I have no idea if Craig or anyone else at CraigsList thinks of it this
    > way, but you can view this decision as the application of a straightforward
    > business philosophy: listen to your users fanatically and give them exactly
    > what they want as long as you can cover costs.

    If Google “listened to their users” they would be out of business by now.

    The fact of the matter is that users don’t know that they want. They say they
    want one thing but they often react radically different. Users have NOT
    revolted from text ads.

    The trick is the middle path.

    > I would even say that as everything about building web apps gets easier and
    > easier, this might well become one of the only ways to build a sustainable
    > business on the Internet! In any case, I certainly wouldn’t call it “evil”.

    In summary. Text ads have not been proven to chase users away. Quite the
    opposite. The increased revenue can allow you to improve the site thereby
    attracting an even LARGER user base.

    If Craigslist were to give this additional revenue to charity and the lives of
    hundreds of thousands of children per year you HONESTLY think people would be
    mad?

    I think Craig would win the Nobel Prize~!

    Kevin

  5. Craigslist has disputably been the largest voice to help make the internet free. I would call that among the greatest works of charity thusfar this century.

  6. Daniel

    Won’t somebody please think about the children?

  7. dbt

    This is the dumbest thing I ever read. In fact, I’m forced to assume it’s a dumb troll written solely to drive up ad impressions and revenue!

    Hey, uh, do YOU donate all your ad revenue to charity?






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