While everyone keeps gearing up for the Google IPO, it looks like plenty of other tech IPOs have been fizzling lately, dropping their prices or dropping IPO plans altogether. Of course, that's no good for the business press who want more IPO hype so they can go back to the glory days of 1999. So, what you end up with are bizarre articles like the latest from CNN/Money wondering if Craigslist will be "the next Google" that will go public at some point. The writer, Eric Hellweg, notes the stunning popularity of Craigslist, and how people in many cities where it's popular practically live off of Craigslist (just tonight, I was talking to someone who just sold her house via Craigslist). He also notes that the site is making buckets of money, despite only charging for job ads in San Francisco (to which they're adding NYC and LA). This is all true, but to jump from that to an IPO seems pretty unlikely. First, the reason to do an IPO is to get a large influx of capital for some sort of project -- or, unfortunately, to allow early investors to cash out. In the case of Craigslist, there are no VCs to cash out. If the site is bringing in so much money, then you can be quite sure that Craig and whoever else may have put any investment into the site have gotten out much more than they put in. So, there's certainly no reason for early investors to cash out. The other question, then, is what big capital-intensive project would require a sudden need for a public offering? The site has done well, growing at a steady pace, opening in new cities and getting plenty of attention. And they've done it all with just 14 employees. Also, while Google won over users with their better mousetrap and general "not so evil" philosophy, what makes Craigslist so successful is the community itself that uses it. That's not very easy to replicate, so there's less fear of having to fight off competitors. The whole article seems like random speculation for no reason other than the press needs a new "good" internet company to obsess about.
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