The Craiglist Story | Keep It Simple!

Don’t we just love that feeling of nostalgia! It was at its best again when we recently came across an old interview of Jim Buckmaster, CEO of greatest classified ads company - Craiglist. Jim sat down with BusinessWeek innovation editor Jessi Hempel for a fireside chat at the Nantucket Conference, an annual gathering of New England Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs, where he talked about his learnings from Craiglist and how the site created such a dedicated online community.

But what is this black box called Craiglist?

Well for starters, it serves classified ads to 700 cities in 70 countries. The site receives more than 1 million job listings a month, which is a part of the much larger melee of over 80 million classified ads each month (including reposts and renewals). Users also self-publish more than 200 million user postings in 100 topical forums. The site has been profitable since late 1999, and it generates revenues by charging nominal fees for job posts. But the best part is (For you and me!) that it charges no user fees. And it has no banner ads. With only a 40+ staff working out of their San Francisco location, it’s clear that the site could be worth very much more than anybody else in classified market. With such a huge demand, it’s no wonder that Jim Buckmaster sits atop one of the busiest sites in the world!

In Jim’s candid interview we saw a reflection of our very own core values and style of working at eLitmus. Excerpts:

Q: The site looks very much the same as it did in the late 1990s, even as you’ve added more cities and categories. It’s text heavy and kind of boring. Have you ever considered a redesign?

A: People have suggested that, but they’re usually Web designers. You might look to a boring interface as a reassuring thing to cling to as you’re looking at some of the outlandish things you see out there. We’re open to letting people use HTML in their postings, almost to a fault. People aren’t looking for the interface to be exciting. They’re looking to it to be fast, reliable, and easy to use.

Q: How have you built such a dedicated community of users?
A: Something we learned early on is the more we can get out of the way and let users do things for themselves, the less you have to depend on someone in an office. Users are better positioned than staff to serve themselves and help each other. The other thing is following up on feedback. The site has been hammered into shape by millions of requests over 12 years. Everything you see there today is the result of user feedback.

Complete interview can be accessed here : Craiglist Interview1

Now the other side of the coin (or the same) is the eLitmus story, the one we saw in a client meeting with

eLitmus was approached by a company looking to hire fresher talent. A meeting was set-up as usual but the client had an interesting story in place for us!

The company although small is among the leading ones in its market and it had an ambitious growth plan which they wanted to materialize with a bigger team. For a while now, the CEO of this company was trying to get people onboard at all levels across the hierarchy. He had just onboarded his CTO, a senior guy with extensive experience with various tech companies. When the CEO consulted with him on his biggest pain point of hiring the right freshers from a crowd of lakhs the CTO suggested eLitmus. Promptly the CEO visited but he wasn’t impressed with the website. No fancy UI and focused more on functionality than the looks was an outdated concept. Or was it?

He called in on the CTO to double-check. The CTO understood the apprehension and was able to provide multiple examples of eLitmus’ expertise in fresher hiring and their value addition to various different sized-companies, including start-ups.

Relating to the Craigslist story, eLitmus has focused extensively on developing various IPs like pH test (one of the most researched analytical reasoning and algorithmic test in the world), PacLabs (a world class assessment engine).

Just like Craiglist, we partner with our customers in enabling business outcomes and not just delivering assessments and recruitment