Craigslist could see revenue of more than $80 million this year, which would be a 47 percent rise from an estimated $55 million for 2007, according to projections in a new report from consultancy Classified Intelligence.
"They could get up to $200 million in a heartbeat and it would improve Craigslist with very little backlash, but they're not about the money, so it is irrelevant to them," Peter Zollman, founder of Classified Intelligence, said in an interview.
Because it is private, Craigslist isn't required to publicly disclose its financial results.
Asked to comment on the report, Chief Executive Jim Buckmaster said the company doesn't comment on "financial guesstimates."
Classified Intelligence says it came up with the revenue estimates by studying postings for one week in January and one week in March and then doing the math.
Craigslist is free to use, except it costs $25 to $75 for recruitment listings in some markets and $10 for apartment ads placed by brokers in New York City.
The site is by far the leader in the online classifieds space, exceeding 9 billion page views, 30 million new classified ads and 2 million new job listings each month, according to the report. The number of unique visitors to Craigslist was 26.6 million in January, up 75 percent from a year earlier, according to ComScore.
The report also referred to Craigslist's "sleaze factor" and said the anonymity it allows is attractive to criminals, including thieves who post fake ads that someone else's property is free, people using the site offering or seeking prostitution and end up getting carjacked and even murder-for-hire.
However, Zollman acknowledged that even traditional newspaper classifieds were used by fraudsters and other criminals. And at least some of the criminal cases have been solved after authorities traced the IP address to the computer used to post the listing.
In the recently launched official Craigslist blog, a post from March 29 says the site has implemented a phone verification system for its "erotic services" category which helped cut ads for that category by 80 percent.
"Misuse of Craigslist for unlawful purposes is unacceptable to us, and we will continue to look for additional ways to eliminate it, while preserving full functionality for the overwhelming majority of well-intentioned law abiding Craigslist users, including those who use our "erotic services" category," Buckmaster wrote.