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 (archive.org 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.