The Amazing Growth of Craigslist

I first heard about Craigslist when I moved to San Francisco in 2000. I tried to use it to find an apartment but it was a time when the demand far exceeded the supply. One household invited twenty potential roommates, of seventy applicants, to meet and be considered for an 8 foot by 10 foot room in Pacific Heights.
I moved to Boston in 2001 and again tried using Craigslist to find a place. The Boston version of Craigslist was tiny in comparison to the original San Francisco version. There were only about 300 total apartments listed at that time ( cache).
There have been at least 1500 apartments listed on the Boston Craigslist today, and it’s only 4:30.
Craigslist is one of many successful network technology sites (where the network relies on, and is made better by, users). In the words of 90’s Alterna-Rock band Soul Asylum, “nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.” This is surely the reason eBay (the network success story) has had their eye on Craig and his list, acquiring a 25% share last week.
The strange by-product of network success is that the closer a service gets to a monopoly, the better it performs (and thus the better it serves the users). These ideas converge on 100% dominance for optimal effectiveness. (Notice that there’s only one internet.) Both eBay and Craigslist have enormous power in their markets, and I can’t say that it has been anything but a good thing. I just bought a $25 phone battery for $3 on eBay, and I several Craigslist visitors have come by apartment this week to purchase my old furniture. Amazing.