Snapshot overview

Craigslist, Inc. provides local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, goods, services, romance, local activities, and advice through its Website.

Company story

Since its founding in 1995, Craigslist, Inc. has become synonymous with online classified ads. Though other companies and websites have entered this space over the years, there are few internet users who do not know about Craigslist or what it's used for. Craigslist Inc. was incorporated in California as a privately held company and, as of December 2019, neither of those things have changed.

Original concept

In its original form, Craigslist was a personal project of Craig Newmark's, an email distribution list to his personal contacts in the San Francisco area. It quickly gained momentum and launched a web presence a year later. Their emphasis and values have not changed in over 20 years, something that Craig Newmark has emphasized in numerous interviews and public statements. Craigslist, Inc. has been headquartered in San Francisco since it was created.

Realization of the idea

As a company, Craigslist has only ever maintained a single property: their website of the same name. They do not merchandise or diversify and this focused approach seems to have served them well. Their website does not even have external advertising; the company's sole source of revenue is paid classified ads within their own site. On more than one occasion, including interviews with HuffPost and, Craig Newmark has given credit to his philosophy of "doing well by doing good."

Monetizing their own ads

Their practice of monetizing their own ads began in 1998 when it targeted certain types of ads posted by certain types of users. They began with job ads, to cover their own site costs, and over time expanded this practice to real estate ads posted by brokers, car ads posted by auto dealers, and so on. An anonymous employee once told Forbes that the practice of charging for ads was also intended to limit spam ads, but it made them so much money they weren't sure what to do with it.

Company value

Though they have maintained a commitment to making free ads available to most users and avoided other revenue streams, they have most likely grown to the billion dollar mark. Since Craigslist, Inc. does not make its financials public, this is an estimate, but one popularly held by various expert sources including Forbes, as stated in the above article.  

Craigslist has had a consistent leadership team and seems to be a stable home to longtime employees. Since its founding, Craigslist, Inc. has been a very small operation. According to a 2017 profile of the company, Forbes reported that Craigslist had 50 employees. In a different 2017 interview, Craig Newmark told Wil Schroter of that he saw truth in a principle called the Dunbar Number. This principle suggests that an organization develops interpersonal problems when it reaches 150 people.

Craig Newmark has maintained a personal, though limited, role in the company. Though he may owns upward of 43% of the company, based on numbers publicly available before Craigslist, Inc. bought its own shares back from eBay in 2015, he has stepped back from management and works in a customer service capacity, according to his own words in an interview with HuffPost.

According to his bio on the Craigslist site, Jim Buckmaster was a key force in the expansion and success of Craigslist since joining in 2000.


Craigslist has, according to a report by Forbes, grown into a billion dollar company despite sticking with a basic business model and modest sized team and never receiving any investment capital.

Though they are averse to advertising their financials, expert estimates and a few hard numbers released sporadically throughout the company's history, also cited in the previously mentioned report by Forbes, suggest a pattern of strong, progressive growth.

Craig and Jim have both insisted that the company will never go public and, while the employees have equity, they understand this fact. Though the company certainly makes money and likely won't stop that any time soon, Craig Newmark has said on more than one occasion that their business philosophy is to do well by doing good.

1 Website

The total number of writing service websites that Craigslist, Inc. owns and operates is 1.


Type: Privately Held
Size: 11-50 employees
Funding: Yes
Founded: March, 1995


Craigslist, Inc.
1381 9th Ave
San Francisco, California 94122
United States of America

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