Craig Newmark moved to San Francisco in 1995. He decided to start an email distribution to friends about events in the area.
There was no moderation to the list and Newmark noticed quickly that people were using it to get technical positions filled and other non-event postings.
Community members began asking for a web interface and Newmark registered www.craigslist.org. The website went live in 1996. The website is a classified advertisement website with sections for jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, resumes, and discussion forums.
In 1999 Craigslist incorporated as a for-profit company and Newmark quit his job as a software engineer to run Craigslist full time.
Craigslist was and continues to be, focused on community and giving people a voice. The site has had only minor changes in design since 1996 and continues to be simple. The site has no advertisements and no banner ads.
Craigslist’s main source of revenue is paid jobs in select cities (from $25 to $75) and paid broker apartment listings in New York City ($25).
Miranda and Elyette Barbour, dubbed “The Craigslist Killers,” were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Troy LaFerrara, whom they lured with an ad on CraigsList offering female companionship.
The company is very secretive about financial details and ownership. It is believed that founder Craig Newmark owns the controlling share, current CEO Jim Buckmaster is a part owner, and 25% is owned by eBay.
In March 2018, the company removed its section titled “Personals” after Congress passed a sex trafficking law which would have left Craigslist responsible if criminals used their site for trafficking sex workers.
Today Craigslist operates websites in 700 cities in 70 countries. The company is estimated to have a net worth of $2 billion and had an approximate revenue of $694 million in 2016.