After all the dust settled, how much money did Craigslist rake in 2010? About $121 million, according to our full-year estimates.
That’s about $1 million less than we projected in our April 2010 annual report, when we said Craigslist would earn about $122 million for the year — $36 million of that in erotic-services advertising.
But things changed for Craigslist in late 2010. In early September, it shut down its sex-trade advertising services after taking extreme heat from lawmakers, law enforcers, human-rights groups and media. Admittedly, our projections of Craigslist’s erotic-services revenue fueled that fire.
In August, just before Craigslist shut down the category, we conducted new research which indicated that sex-ad revenue was growing faster than we had projected in our April report. (It was on track to earn about $45 million for 52 weeks, or about $9 million more than our initial estimate.) We took the growth into account in calculating a final 2010 estimate.
We also took into account the fact that the U.S. jobs remained nearly flat in 2010. Craigslist still made most of its money in recruitment advertising in 19 metro markets.
So here’s our projected 2010 totals:
- Recruitment advertising: $65,310,000.00
- NYC apartment rental advertising: $20,604,000.00
- Sex-worker advertising in 39 markets (and estimating the remaining smaller U.S. markets): $34,800,000.00
The bottom line? Months of negative press didn’t seem to hurt Craigslist’s bottom line.
We’ve always stated that we prefer taking a conservative approach to our projections. Last year, we didn’t count revenue from the therapeutic services category, where Craigslist charges $10 for a seven-day ad. Revenue was negligible, in our estimation.
Now it seems that some sex workers have migrated there, mixed among licensed massage therapists, aromatherapists, acupuncturists, new-age and old-age therapists. (If you’re expecting crystal therapy from a woman who calls herself Crystal, you might be in for a shock.)
We’ll be counting the category for our 2011 report (out in April) but we won’t be attempting to discern legitimate services from illicit ones.
In case you’ve forgotten, Craigslist is a privately held company, majority owned by founder Craig Newmark and CEO Jim Buckmaster — and minority owned by publicly held EBay. In an epic falling out, EBay quit receiving financial reports from Craigslist, and the private company went even privater.