With no fanfare, eBay has launched a challenge to Craigslist, the colossus of the online classified ad market. Kijiji classifieds, which have already been successful abroad, quietly expanded into the US last week. Kijiji knows what it's up against: eBay bought 25% of Craigslist in 2004 to get an inside perspective on the industry, and isn't planning on selling.
Kijiji (Swahili for "village") launches domestically as investors are fretting over eBay's slowing growth rate. The classifieds network will be free at first, but the parent company plans to add premium services. Craiglist, which has provided free services since its inception in 1995, doesn't sound too concerned. "We simply do not look at other sites as competition," said a spokeswoman.