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6 Years Ago

(January 16, 2007)
  We were sure that the national and global ambitions of the Craig's List crowd were silly. We still think that the small niches are the path for job boards. Here's what we saw six years ago:
Mee Jah Beestro
(January 15, 2001) We tossed an off the cuff remark about the global expansion of Craig's List in an article last week. We suggested that the idea that community is a "one size fits all" equation was sophomoric. Let us offer a little detail to support that idea.

From ethnic composition to the "liberal dome" we live under, San Francisco is very different from other places. We think things are funny that shock people from other regions. We take a certain range of social experimentation as the norm. In the small town we used to live in, those things were meant to be kept well inside of the house and not shown publicly. Her in the Bay area, our hypocrisy is a little different than the rest of the world. We're often closet conservatives.

There's a hook there. We ended up in San Francisco by way of a little, very conservative town. Our hearts had been left in San Francisco but our tails were in the Right Wing Rotary club. We'd read about the goings on on the West Coast under the cover of darkness so to speak.

Life is less censored in really big cities and you can find just about anything you want if the city is big enough.

So, if Craigslist trolls for the San Francisco component of the cities they're growing into, they'll have some luck. It's a huge market and there is lots of room for lots of offerings. But, the only people who think that San Francisco is a good preparation for New York live in San Francisco.

On one level, it only takes about 10,000 people to make Craigslist work. From that angle, there's room for 1,000 Craigslist variants in NYC. It's entirely possible, in other words to generate a financial home run with a New York outlet and never come to grips with the regional realities of the big Apple. In that case, the question of what constitutes success is key.

You might take a look at MediaBistro, a somewhat less pretentious version of Craig'sList, based in New York but targeted at a region of industry rather than geography. Focused tightly on upwardly mobile media people, MediaBistro offers trade news, shows for media folks, job listings and employer services. While it wants to be National (we're guessing that National Ambition is a drug resistant disease), it's heart is in New York.

Like Craig's, MediaBistro really is a party masquerading as a website. But, it's a New York party. And, interestingly, media people like to go to New York parties.

Sometimes, we feel like the venerable Pooh Bear. There's an important point lurking just beneath the apparent ramblings.

Yes Craigslist can make it in New York; No They won't save the world; Maybe no one will even notice; They could still be very profitable.

Yes MediaBistro can go National; Yes, no one might notice; Yes they could still be very profitable.

The problem, we think, is that no one, us included, is very good at talking about just how potent tiny little niches of 10,000 really are. In the staffing business, 10,000 active professionals who changed jobs every 5 years would constitute a $30,000,000/year business. While it's no Monster Board, it is nearly 10% of their current revenue. And, it can be run by a small staff.

Ultimately, the small operations will prevail as the bulk of the market.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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