EBay Launches International ‘Craigslist’ Competitor

E-commerce player eBay has taken the Craigslist concept — free classifieds and community — and launched Web sites in 50 cities around the world that embody that idea under a new project called Kijiji.

“Kijiji builds local communities online, giving neighbors a way to come together around local needs and interests,” said Alex Kazim, senior vice president of new ventures at eBay, who is heading up the new project. Kijiji is an independent start-up within eBay.

Kijiji, which means “village” in Swahili, has put down roots in localities in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Though Craigslist has its strongest presence in the U.S., it also has dozens of international sites, having recently launched in 16 additional cities in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Following the Craigslist model, Kijiji will initially allow users to post and search for free. After it built an audience, Craigslist began charging for postings in some categories, such as jobs and real estate. EBay isn’t revealing its future plans for Kijiji, but said it didn’t expect the sites to have a material impact on its 2005 earnings.

EBay holds a 25 percent stake in Craigslist, which has been a huge competitor for traditional newspaper firms seeking online classified ad dollars. One study pegged Craigslist’s cost to Bay Area newspapers alone at $30 million annually.

The e-commerce player has made other recent moves in the classifieds space, purchasing both Dutch player Marktplaats.nl and Rent.com in the last few months.

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