Facebook Groups: The Next Craigslist for Startups

Drew Meyers
Sep 15, 2015 · 2 min read

If you’re a tech entrepreneur, you have probably seen the following graphic by Andrew Parker:

Entire multi-billion dollar companies have been started by building a far superior experience around one tiny link on Craigslist.

There is a new Craigslist. It’s Facebook groups.

Over 700 million people use groups monthly(reported as of late last year). That’s massive, massive potential distribution for startups (and proof of supply & demand). I’ve spent A LOT of time with groups over the past year, since Horizon’s goal is to put hospitality exchange / home sharing inside existing groups.

Buy Nothing is one movement with massive scale entirely built inside Facebook groups. I recently moved to Queen Anne in Seattle, and numerous friends told me to join the Queen Anne Buy Nothing group. There are interest-based dating groups, such as one for Nomads. There are classified marketplaces for specific communities such as Burning Man. There are groups for the 12th Man (Go Hawks!). There are groups for Expats in Colombia to trade advice, meet-up, and buy & sell items.

Craigslist has audience, as does Facebook groups. Both work exactly the same way — the most recently posted items on top. That doesn’t change the fact that “recency” is a terrible sort order for the vast majority of user scenarios. If you know something is actually available, when it was posted honestly has no relevance. The reason recency is used so frequently is because the sheer volume of stale postings, that most recent is the best way to increase the chances you’re looking at something actually available.

Over the next decade, I’m firmly convinced we’ll see numerous startups built by creating interfaces to better serve users within specific Facebook groups — same as numerous startups have been built from Craigslist’s audience over the past 15 years.

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