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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

is a network of online communities focused on free classified advertisements — with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, goods, services, community, and discussion forums.

, inspired by his experience with the early list-servs and , created the service in 1995 as an email distribution list for friends and friends-of-friends. The service was focused on the San Francisco community; most of its early postings were submitted by Newmark himself and were notices of social events of interest to software developers living and working in the Bay Area.

In 1996, Newmark, having registered “craigslist.org,” moved the list to the web. In 1999, he incorporated Craigslist as a private, for-profit company. In 2000, with a staff of nine — who worked out of Newmark’s San Francisco apartment — Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities; by 2003, the service had expanded to 22 U.S. cities. The network, since 2000 lead by the web designer — “possibly the only CEO ever described as anti-establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist” — currently , and includes . Craigslist has versions in English, French, German, Italian, Portugese, and Spanish.

Many newspaper publishers have blamed Craigslist, and the generally free classified advertising network it provides to users both local and around the globe, for destroying one of their most lucrative revenue streams. According to , Craigslist “has cost San Francisco Bay Area newspapers up to $65 million in employment advertising revenue.” A 2013 study found that Craigslist from 2000-2007. And a 2006 Economist — titled “Who killed the newspaper?” — referred to Craigslist as “a group of free classified-advertisement websites that has probably done more than anything to destroy newspapers’ income.” Craigslist users . Overall, the site gets , with .

Craigslist’s main source of revenue is paid job ads in select cities. The service for the San Francisco Bay Area, and for Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Orange County (California), Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), San Diego, Sacramento, Seattle, South Florida, and Washington, DC. Craigslist also charges for broker apartment listings in New York City, and in the “therapeutic services” sections of Craigslist sites.

Though the service doesn’t formally disclose financial or ownership information, analysts in 2009 . The online auction firm bought approximately 25 percent of the company in 2004, though Newmark himself is still believed to own the largest stake. Despite its for-profit status, Craigslist has maintained its dot-org URL, that the web address “symbolizes the relatively non-commercial nature, public service mission, and non-corporate culture of craigslist.”


Newmark dismissing the idea that Craigslist killed newspapers as “urban legend”:

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Primary author: Megan Garber. Main text last updated: October 2, 2013.
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