The Seattle Times did a Q&A with Craig Newmark of San Francisco, the founder of Craigslist.
- Question: Speaking of emulation, newspapers are belatedly responding to competition from Craigslist. They are offering free merchandise listings, they’re trying to build community around their classifieds similar to what you did a decade ago. Are you seeing effects on your traffic from those efforts?
Newmark: Can’t tell in terms of traffic, because we just get continuous slow growth. You know, it’s just slow but steady. It’s like in the race between tortoise and hare, and we’re always the tortoise. It’s hard to read much out of our traffic.
Regarding our effect on newspapers, for the most part it’s an urban myth. I’ve spoken to a lot of publishers, editors, industry analysts who say we do have a measurable effect on classified revenues.
But the niche sites, which have teams of aggressive sales people, they’re the big problem.
His answer ignores research showing that Craigslist costs the Bay Area’s traditional newspapers, and their online divisions, between $50 and $65 million annually in revenues from employment ads alone. That study was done by Bob Cauthorn, former digital media VP at SFGate.com, the site for the San Francisco Chronicle.