Analysis by Steve King, Emergent Research partner and a regular contributor to SmallBusiness.com.


In an interesting example of how technology-driven disruption is speeding up, Craigslist competitor OfferUp just raised $119 million. It wasn’t that long ago that print newspapers made large sums of money selling classified ads. For example, as recently as two decades ago the Washington Post made a third of its revenues from print classified ads. Today it’s negligible.

The reason is Craigslist and to a lesser degree eBay. These online sites killed the print classified ads that traditional newspapers used to generate large amounts of revenues and profits.

But anyone who uses Craigslist knows it really hasn’t changed much in the past decade. Nor does have much of a mobile application. Additionally, eBay long ago moved on to other market segments and is not widely used by individuals buying and selling used goods.

This has left the door open for yet another wave of disruption in the classified ad space–this time driven by mobile devices instead of desktop computers connected to the Internet.

Key quote from a Tech Crunch article on why VCs are throwing money at OfferUp:

“Hans Tung from GGV Capital said that he invested in OfferUp because ‘Craigslist hasn’t innovated for a long time and there is unmet, pent-up demand for classified on mobile.’ He points out that OfferUp makes it easy to communicate with prospective buyers, without having to share one’s personal cell phone number.”

Mobile is a game changer so many ways in so many industries. No matter how much we cover mobile computing, or how aggressive our mobile computing forecasts seem, we continue to underestimate its growth and impact.

In terms of the pace of change, newspapers had about 100 year run with classified ads. Craigslist came along and disrupted classifieds and contributed to the mess that is the newspaper industry today. About a decade later, Craigslist is being challenged by new competitors deploying new technology.

People often say change is constant.
But maybe even more importantly,
the pace of change is accelerating.


An earlier version of this analysis appeared on Small Business Labs.