February 12, 2015
Facebook is launching a new feature in Facebook Groups that may finally take a bite out of Craigslist. The feature will enable users to post listings, find posts about items for sale and set pickup locations. The popular social network previously attempted to unseat the 20-year-old Craigslist in the classifieds business, but the venture never took off. Despite its crude appearance, Craigslist still gets 50 billion page views monthly in the U.S. alone because it already has so many users.
Several tech companies, from giants like Google to startups like Nextdoor, have tried to compete with Craigslist. Google tried to integrate classified ads into its Google Base service, but it has since abandoned that project. Facebook launched Facebook Marketplace, another online space to sell items and find housing, in 2007, but it only survived until 2009.
Many startups have also tried to create a design-savvy version of Craigslist, but they have trouble getting users to adopt a new platform.
“People like Craigslist because you can go and you feel like it’s comprehensive,” venture capitalist Brian O’Malley explained in Bloomberg. “It’s less about how you merchandise an item, and it’s more about having the right items.”
Craigslist has listings for just about every item someone could want, from used sporting goods to cars to collectibles. It has added a few features to its site since 1995 to make it more user-friendly, such as allowing users to see multiple photos without clicking to go to the full post.
Some companies have been able to put a small dent in Craigslist’s business by targeting some of the other categories of Craigslist listings. For example, Tinder is now the app for dating and hook-ups. Vacationers user Airbnb to look for rentals. Unlike a lot of startups though, Craigslist does not seem to be so focused on monetization or eventually going public. Facebook already has those things, so it will try again to edge into Craigslist territory.