The Mess of Success


A fascinating Wired magazine article about craigslist.  Everyone one knows craigslist – it is the lead suspect in the death of the newspaper industry, has more job postings that Monster, CareerBuilder and HotJobs combined, and gets more online traffic than eBay or Amazon, all with just 30 employees.

Highly successful, except truth be told, the site sort of, um, sucks.  Craigslist is one of the least innovative and user-friendly sites on the web – using it (which I still do) is sort of like listening to long-wave radio in the days of HDTV.  As the article notes:

With more than 47 million unique users every month in the US alone – nearly a fifth of the nation’s adult population – it is the most important community site going and yet the most underdeveloped. Think of any Web feature that has become popular in the past 10 years: Chances are craigslist has considered it and rejected it.

The craigslist user experience is so bad, about a year ago, Y combinator included it on their list of Startup Ideas We’d Like To Fund (#25) – so far no apparent takers.  Craigslist has conveniently ignored or intentionally destroyed most of the basic advice offered to any new business, yet they have been one of the most disruptive innovations on the web.  Apparently even the internet gods have a sense of humor.