So many companies have tried to topple Craigslist, and they have all failed. Jonathan Wegener thinks they’ve all done it the wrong way. Today at Techstars Demo Day, he introduced Friendslist, a listing service that taps into your social network without requiring the middelmen (your friends who connect buyers and sellers) to do any work. “Craigslist obliterated the classifieds newspaper industry,” he acknowledges, but Craigslist is now “a scary place.” In between the the legitimate listings, there are “lots of scam listings and half of the postings are duplicates.”
Friendslist offers a cleaner interface to start, but that’s nothing new. What it does is connect buyers and sellers, or people who are looking for jobs and people who are hiring, through the people they know. Yes, Oodle does this to some extent on Facebook Marketplace, but Friendslist takes a slightly different approach. If you know your friend Mark is a great designer and you are looking to hire a designer for your startup, you would post your jobs listing to his Friendslist, which shows the listing to all of his Facebook friends. Mark acts as the middleman, but he doesn’t have to do anything.
“Nobody is trying the very approach that made Craisglist work in the first place, the social approach,” says Wegener. “We think people are the best platform in the world. They are the best brands and the best marketers.”
Friendlist right now is only Wegener and his co-founder Benny Wong. Wegener has created a few fun apps, such as 4Squareand7yearsago (an app that tells you where you checked in on Foursquare a year ago). Wong worked at Gilt, where he was the lead engineer who built Gilt City, a sub-brand which now employs 70 people.
Can Friendslist take on the mighty Craig? It will need a little help from its friends (and maybe more than two employees).