16 years ago, Craig NewMark unwittingly unleashed a beast upon the classified industries, when his homegrown email list mutated into a national network of free online classifieds.
“The problem with Craigslist these days, it’s half duplicates and half scams and half duplicates,” said Friendslist founder Jonathan Wegener, drawing a big laugh from the crowd at TechStars NY Demo day.
Wegener, along with co-founder Benny Wong, have cooked up some of the city’s more exciting apps and hacks in recent months: Exit Strategy and Four Square and Seven Years Ago both enjoyed spurts of viral fame and continue to attract repeat users.
Now they are seeking to take the classified industry back to its roots, by focusing on a users social graph. It won’t be easy. “The trail is littered with the corpses of companies that tried to do this, ” Wegener intoned.
The key to success will be making users into middlemen connecting buyers and seller or job offers and job seekers, without forcing the person acting as the node to do any heavy lifting. So if I hear about a great marketing gig at a start-up, I can post that position to my through my friend Dan, a uber-networked marketing pro, in order to get the message out to his social graph.
Friendslist seemed like one of the most modest ventures launching today, aiming for just $300,000 in seed capital. “We love ramen” said Wegener with a smile.