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
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
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
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.