Craigslist SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat


Craigslist is an online classified advertisements platform. It allows sellers to post their advertisements and connect with buyers. Craigslist is an American company and one of the largest online classifieds websites in the USA.

It has various sections for the community, housing jobs, services, sales, and discussion forums.

The company first started in 1995 as an email distribution list. However, it became an online service in 1996 and expanded into other classified categories. While primarily used in the USA and Canada, Craigslist is available in over 80 countries worldwide.

The Craigslist business model is straightforward to understand. Craigslist charges users to post ads on its platform for some specific categories.

The rate for posting is different according to the city and country. For example, a paid job in New York City, Los Angeles, and other major US cities costs $25.

The rate for the San Francisco Bay area is $75 per ad. The price also differs according to the category in which the seller wants to post. Despite the priced listings, the company does not focus on generating profits.

 While the platform was once the largest in the USA for online classifieds, it has lost popularity due to the wide range of available substitute options.

The platform also garnered a bad reputation for enabling illegal activities, such as drug dealing. Despite all this, the platform is still a household name among people in the United States and Canada.

The company reported revenues of over $1 billion in 2018. However, in 2019, its revenues took an estimated 27% drop due to a decrease in revenues from job postings. Despite the downfall in revenues, experts suggest the company generates profits above $600 million per year.

Although the main drop in revenue is due to fewer job openings in 2019, experts also believe the closure of the personal sections on the platform may also have contributed to it.

However, despite poor results, the company has no apparent counteractions. That is because it is a well-known fact that the company does not focus on making profits or generating revenues.

Some experts even suggest that the company could generate over $8 billion in revenues by changing the prices of paid listings and focusing on profit-making.

Craigslist’s company profit is as below.

Company Profile

FounderCraig Newmark
CEOJim Buckmaster
ChairmanCraig Newmark
LocationUSA, Canada, and over 80 other countries
HeadquartersSan Francisco, California, U.S
Year founded1995
Year of incorporation1999
Revenues (2018)$1.03 billion
Key products/servicesOnline classified advertisements with sections devoted to jobs, housing, for sale, items wanted, services, community service, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.
Key competitorsFacebook, OfferUp, Locanto, Letgo, Swappa, Geebo, Oodle, and eBay

SWOT Analysis:

For an even better analysis of the platform, it is crucial to perform a SWOT analysis of the company. A SWOT analysis determines a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

The SWOT analysis of Craigslist is as below.

1) Craigslist’s Strengths

The strengths of Craigslist relate to its popularity and expertise. First of all, Craigslist is a household name in the USA. Craigslist doesn’t have many big competitors, which significantly helps with its popularity.

Its main competitor is eBay, which doesn’t offer the same flexibility and categories as Craigslist.

Similarly, its other competitors are new names that are unknown in the market. It also helps that Craigslist is one of the oldest online markets.

The platform is also popular in pop culture, with movies such as ’24 Hours on Craigslist’, ‘The Craigslist Killer’, and ‘Craigslist Joe’, made based on their popularity.

Another strength of the platform is that it has a simple business model that works. The business model isn’t complicated or unique, which makes it very easy to understand.

Since the business model is simple, it is easier to operate than other business models.

The company, as mentioned above, is not focused on generating profits or revenues. However, their way of business still works. Other companies with complex business models don’t even come close to the simplicity of Craigslist.

Craigslist is also an expert in the field of online classified advertisements. The expertise comes from over 20 years of expertise in classified advertisements.

The platform has gone through some rough patches during its lifetime. However, it is as strong as ever and is currently one of the biggest online platforms in the USA and Canada.

Another of its strengths is that it is easy to use and free to sign up for. Anyone can use the platform and post for free in most categories.

Similarly, for paid listings, the costs are unbelievably low. Considering the broad exposure the platform allows users to get, their prices are justifiable.

The user interface is also uncomplicated to work around, making it accessible to users of all ages.

Craigslist is also very widely spread. The platform works in over 80 countries, which allows it to attract audiences from those countries.

While it is most dominant in the USA and Canada markets, it is also decently popular in Japan, Australia, Germany, China, Brazil, etc. Therefore, the company benefits from the extra popularity in these countries.

2) Craigslist’s Weaknesses

There are also some weaknesses that the platform has. First, the platform is outdated and hasn’t kept up with the latest technological changes.

Its website design, while simple and easy to use, hasn’t changed significantly. Similarly, the platform only recently launched a mobile app for the iOS and Android platforms. Craigslist is generally behind the curve when it comes to the latest technologies.

The platform also has a bad reputation for some of its past controversies. For example, in 2018, Craigslist discontinued its ‘Personals’ section in response to the passing of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

The section was notorious and earned a bad reputation for the platform for enabling prostitution and other illegal activities such as drug dealing, etc.

Apart from this, the platform has often come under severe criticism. For example, in 2005, a well-known newspaper criticized the platform for allowing the sale of pets online.

Similarly, the platform has also faced problems with spam. While it has instated some counteractions against spam, it still faces the problem.

Spam is one of the biggest problems the platform faces. Many spam ads on the forum are indistinguishable from real ads. Similarly, some sellers get spam replies, which can lead to confusion or dissatisfied users. All the spam causes the platform to become unusable.

While the platform has many sections that allow users to classify their ads easily, finding the correct section can also become overwhelming.

Especially for less advanced users, fitting their ads into predefined categories can be confusing. Some users also complain that the platform has become cluttered and hard to navigate.

3) Craigslist’s Opportunities

When a company has been in the market for so long, it doesn’t get as many opportunities as startups would get. However, Craigslist still has excellent opportunities to grow.

As mentioned above, some experts believe that the platform has the opportunity to increase its profits substantially by charging more for its services. While charging users higher may repel some users, experts believe Craigslist has room to raise its prices without hurting its users.

Craigslist also has opportunities to grow in some countries, such as India, where the online classified advertisement market is booming. While Craigslist is available in most of these countries, the platform hasn’t posed a threat to the already established market.

For example, its main competitors in these countries, such as OLX, are way ahead of it regarding market share. These countries have booming economies and markets and present a significant growth opportunity for Craigslist.

Similarly, Craigslist has the resources available to expand significantly. It is mainly because the platform makes a significant profit from its revenues.

While the platform is accessible in over 80 countries, it is not truly global. Therefore, Craigslist can use its resources to expand into the worldwide market and become a globally used platform.

4) Craigslist’s Threats

There are some threats that Craigslist also faces. First of all, due to the nature of the business, and the low barriers to entry for the online classified advertisement market, many new companies are entering the market regularly.

While Craigslist holds a significant portion of the market, the company still faces a threat from new entrants.

The platform also faces a threat from scams, for which it can be held liable. As mentioned above, anyone can use the platform, which makes users susceptible to various scams.

The platform has a basic anti-spam check. However, it is still not enough to keep the scammers away. Any scam through the network can also be harmful to not only its reputation but also put the company in legal problems.


Craigslist is one of the biggest online classified advertisement platforms in the USA. It also operates in over 80 other countries.

The platform is widely available to users and is a well-known name in the market. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of the platform is available above.