Freebie Marketplace Listia Wants To Take On Craigslist In Local Swaps

Listia, the Y Combinator- and Andreessen Horowitz-backed site where people can exchange free goods, is unveiling a new feature called Listia Local in four cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.

In a lot of ways, this seems like a natural extension of Listia’s basic concept, where people can earn points by giving away items or participating on the site, then use those points to claim free goods. (You can also pay for points, which is Listia’s business model.) Co-founder Gee Chuang says that the team initially thought of Listia as more of a local marketplace, but right now, “almost every single transaction occurs via shipping.”

Nonetheless, having to put something in the mail (and in some cases to pay for the shipping) is obviously “a big point of friction,” as Chuang says. So residents of the four cities mentioned above can now say that they only want to make goods available for local pickup, and users can browse the giveaways in their area using the Listia Local pages. People are doing this kind of thing already on Craigslist (I’ve definitely collected some free furniture that way), but now it’s combined with Listia’s point system.

Chuang says that a good comparison between the existing Listia model and the new Local one is “eBay versus Craigslist”: “We’re trying to do both.”

In early testing, the Local feature has already resulted in an average of 15 percent more sharing per user. This also seems like a good fit for Listia’s increasingly mobile audience. Chuang says that since January, the percentage of listings on Listia that come in via mobile phones has increased from 2 percent to 10 percent. He also says more than 5 million items have been traded and that users spend an average of 20 minutes per session on the site.