Monday, September 21, 2009

craigslist revenue: the AIM group's report credibility and limitations

DELIA: oh... I believe you! It was just very confusing given that I *knew* I saw the word "will", otherwise I would not have given it much importance ("could" is very weak as far as I'm concerned) D.


I can assure you that the version submitted to the court was the "could" version and you can seek a copy from the court if you wish.

Posted by Anonymous to craigslist criticism at September 24, 2009 10:50 AM

Twitter: @agaricus got it figured out, Gary! ~D.14 minutes ago from web

DELIA: found the other version! it was at a slightly different url address:

as opposed to:

sorry about the confusion! (the argument section -- see table of contents -- has A through K subsections as opposed to 1 through 3 in the other version)

MORE: Twitter

(Dart v. Craigslist) CATW's amicus brief Did anybody followed the link to amicus brief on CATW's site last evening or before? please help!2 minutes ago from web

@agaricus Gary, I could really use your help! did you follow the link to the amicus brief on CATW's website before contacting Peter Zollman?2 minutes ago from web

DELIA: that's wild! they are the same NOW (just looked), although as recently as last evening the two links had different versions. The initial one I first saw may have been a prior draft but that's the one CATW linked to when the item got on Google news so I suspect plenty of people saw that and went with it), not only for the spot I referred to -- they had a different organization for the arguments (the sentence I pointed out was not at all *the only* difference)

ANONYMOUS: "I am sorry but that just is not true. The brief that was submitted to the court says "could" as does the brief on CATW's web site at:

Posted by Anonymous to craigslist criticism at September 24, 2009 8:56 AM

DELIA: yeah, those are the links and... it's NOT the same stuff...

the passages talked about, although worded identically otherwise are qualitatively different where it counts, as I explained bellow.


K. Craigslist's Profitability, Power and Corporate Responsibility
(end of 1st paragraph of subsection)

"Projected over a year it is fair to estimate that craigslist's global profits from its adult/erotic services ads *will" constitute over half of its profits" [my emphasis]



(middle of last paragraph on 2nd to last page of that subsection)

"Projected over a year it is fair to estimate that craigslist's global profits from its adult/erotic services ads *could" constitute over half of its profits" [my emphasis]

STILL MORE: thanks! got two anonymous comments, the second shortly after the first; it's unclear if it's the same person or two different ones (I wish anonymous posters would be given numbers such as Anonymous 1, Anonymous 2 etc.)

(1st comment)

This is the brief that was submitted to the court:

This is the Sheriff's complaint from March:

Posted by Anonymous to craigslist criticism at September 23, 2009 7:14 AM

(2nd comment)

The brief posted on CATW's web site is the correct version submitted to the court Aug. 6, 2009

Posted by Anonymous to craigslist criticism at September 23, 2009 7:17 AM

EVEN MORE:(Dart v. Craigslist) CATW's amicus brief - which form was actually submitted? what was the exact wording?help! ( ~Delia3 minutes ago from web

MORE: if anybody else is confused about it, it's unclear to me which version of the amicus brief did CAWA submit: there is a significant wording difference ("will" vs. "could") between the one posted on their website (which I linked to and was familiar with) and the one anonymous linked to. "Will" is a very definite statement, while "could" is as weak as it can get (I mean, pretty much *anything* could be the case...)

As I told Gary Wolf, I don't think we'll really know what's going on with craigslist until their books are open to the public. The host of issues brought up by the AIM's group estimate of craigslist's revenue reinforces this belief.

Again, I have not been able to take a look at the report myself so I don't really know all that is in it. I would hope an explanation of its great limitations is given upfront -- in fact, I believe these limitations should be pointed out to anybody interested in purchasing and/or using the report. I somehow assumed that such a report would go through the equivalent of a pier review but that does not seem to be the case.

And anonymous is right to point out that Peter Zollman has expressed personal opinions that appear to make him a less than ideal person to do the counting -- maybe he should have recused himself?

If anonymous is correct and Chicago alone brings 1 mill a year, the whole thing would, at first, seem to be bogus (if the numbers given by Peter Zollman cannot be trusted). But when were the two different countings done? If one (for the Dart v. Craigslist law suit) was *before* the changes and beginning to charge and the second - Zollman's -- *after* the changes they could both be accurate.

Another problem is the fact that I would not expect the number of ads in those category to be constant from month to month: there would have very likely been a drastic drop right after changes were implemented, and a steady growth thereafter.

Aside from this, if the AIM group is estimating *the 2009 calendar year revenue* for craigslist (which appears to be the case), it seems to mistakenly treat the adult/erotic as bringing in revenue for *12 month* (Peter Zollman quote towards bottom of previous entry on this blog)-- craigslist has not been charging in that category from the beginning of the year so craigslist's revenue for 2009 would be overstated by a significant amount.

Now, if we are concerned with the adult/erotic *share* of craigslist's revenue, you would have to look a year out at least from *when craigslist started charging*, otherwise the comparison with the total revenue for a year would be deceiving. A much more accurate estimated would probably be obtained if the "transition period" would be thrown out of the calculation altogether.

Also, I have no clue why did Peter Zollman count automotive ads (quote towards the end of my prior entry on this blog, when he talks about why the estimate was conservative) -- although craigslist has been steadily adding to the jobs-pay-list in recent times, it has not charged in the automotive categories *anywhere*, nor is it reasonable to believe it will by the end of the year. So how could those numbers be at all relevant?

re: craigslist profiting from erotic ads even before they were charging... yeah, I thought so too, especially when I saw the first evidence of just how important a share of craigslist's overall traffic was brought by those ads and more recently when I saw Jim Buckmaster seemingly unhappy about loosing those ads to other sites...


P.S. As always, further comments are encouraged from all parties and all points of view! D.

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