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Craigslist revenue flirting with $100 million, report says

According to a study by the AIM Group, Craigslist's revenue will top $100 million this year. The report describes its projections as "conservative."

If your children ask you what profession they should go into when they grow up, tell them "relative non-commerce."

You see, according to a study in the Classified Intelligence Report, a publication of the AIM Group, a media and Web consultancy organization, Craigslist's 2009 revenue is projected to rise above $100 million.

The New York Times reported that the AIM Group regards the conclusions of its study, which show a projected 23 per cent revenue increase over last year, as "conservative." AIM Group counted how many paid ads there on Craigslist in a given month and then calculated what this might mean on an annual basis.

It believes that 80 percent of the revenue will come from recruitment ads--the Craigslist site claims there are more than 1 million new job listings every month--and most of the remainder from real estate ads in New York.

Let's assume that the AIM Group's report is vaguely accurate. Such potentially large revenues can be contrasted with newspaper classified advertising, which is plummeting like the jowls of an unhappy judge--down 29 percent, according to the News Association of America.

Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark CC Andrew Feinberg/Flickr

However, these revenues come from a company that proudly explains its dot-org URL with these words: "It symbolizes the relatively noncommercial nature of Craigslist, as well as our service mission and non-corporate culture."

How relative is Craigslist's noncommercial good nature? Might it drive the company to donate much of the profit to come from such a large potential revenue to, say, the unemployed of San Francisco?

After all, Craigslist claims only to employ 28 people, all housed in one modest building. So one cannot imagine its overhead is impossibly great.

Or might the money be used to enhance the strength of the Craigslist Foundation? In its mission statement, the foundation says it "is looking at building a platform for civic engagement."

This seems, at present, a high-minded concept in search of some lower-brow practicality.

Craigslist describes the notion like this: "Imagine a place to learn, share ideas and connect with like-minded individuals. Whether through localized needs matching or taking the pulse of policy at any level, we want to help inspire and connect people and communities on all levels to become active and engaged."

If the revenue projections prove accurate, might they provide a financial foundation for a new form of corporate impetus aimed at bringing people together to actively look after the world around them? Craigslist's is, as the company says, a service mission.

It will be interesting to see just how much of its profits the company will choose to put behind its mission to serve.