Then came Craigslist—web-based, sometimes sketchy, but free!
The site expanded. Newspapers collapsed. Across the country, Craigslist became our default place to buy and sell used stuff online.
And yet, there is one place in America where that is not so. In Salt Lake City, Craigslist is an afterthought.
If you want to buy or sell a car or a cow or a hot tub in Salt Lake City or in one of the nearby towns in Utah, Wyoming, or Idaho, you go to a local website called KSL Classifiedswhich takes its name from local television and radio stations owned by an arm of the Mormon Church. KSL Classifieds works pretty much the same as Craigslist.
And like most business lore, it includes an obligatory short-sighted executive convinced it was all going to fail. He kept asking and asking and, finally, the executive relented.
The money came but with a vote of no confidence. Newspapers were used to charging several dollars per line in print, and these web guys wanted to give it away for nothing.
To Banz, though, this was intuitive. He had the bigger goal of making KSL the destination for locals, and the way to entice users was to make using it free. KSL launched a classifieds section online early and aggressively inwhile in general, the newspaper industry was hesitant.
KSL had the advantage of not worrying about destroying an existing business to build a new one. Like Craigslist, KSL Classifieds charges for commercial listings like those from realtors and car dealers.
It also charges extra to featureand in a move that perfectly embodies the dense commercialization of the modern internet space, it runs display right next to its classifieds. True story: The Atlantic editor J. Amelia Murdock, an artist originally from Utah, told me she paid her way through school buying and selling dozens of horses on KSL Classifieds.
I love this. The site is not explicitly geared toward Mormons, and it has plenty of non-Mormon users.
But it steers clear of the more controversial that Craigslist is sometimes notorious for: personalescortand massage-services. Init also stopped selling guns.
When I asked Banz, he demurred. A corporate restructuring later, KSL. Popular Latest.
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