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eBay Pushes Close5 Classifieds to Replace Craigslist Investment

The most recent earning conference call from eBay included a little bit of information hinting at one part of the company’s growth plans. Devin Wenig, now eBay CEO, spoke about business strategy and the future of eBay, and a new initiative called Close5 received a brief mention.

“We’ve just entered into an agreement to sell eBay Enterprise, and in June we divested our stake in Craigslist,” Wenig said. “Looking forward, we’re investing organically to build out our eBay seller tools and data to acquire the small and medium-size business, and we’re beginning to scale Close5, our rapidly growing U.S. Classifieds mobile app.

Outside of a handful of cities, the broader public probably isn’t aware of Close5. The name refers to finding items for sale close by, perhaps within 5 miles. The service officially launched in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego and Miami.

The Close5 app is listed as being part of the eBay Classifieds Group. Its listing on the Google Play store says “Close5 is free and safe. All ads are monitored by our dedicated team, which you can always contact at support@close5.com.”

Jill Williams, Global Growth & Community Lead at Close5, told EcommerceBytes that the service is already available nationwide. They do plan to do marketing launches in new cities through the remainder of the year.

Getting started with Close5 is as easy as downloading the Android or iOS version of the app. Williams expanded upon some key points of the Close5 service, noting “all a user has to do is snap a photo and upload it to Close5. There is no need for a price or description so posting takes a matter of seconds.”

“Users also know who they’re potentially meeting up with because we utilize public profiles,” she said. “Users can message people privately within the app and discuss where and when to meet without having to use phone numbers or personal emails. Finally, we have a dedicated support team to help answers any questions or issues that may arise.”

Recent feedback from Close5 users on the Google Play store show some technology challenges remain in play. Complaints of poor UI behaviors like cutting off buttons in full-screen mode, problems with downloading pictures, and difficulty with the app’s basic functions freezing or acting incorrectly have all been made recently.

Such issues appear to be reaching those at Close5 who can address them. “We value the feedback we receive from people who use Close5 and use that feedback to guide our product updates. We release updates to the App every few weeks,” Williams said.

The timing for an aggressive push into classifieds could be right for eBay; Williams noted Close5’s role as part of “eBay Classifieds Group – a group that has a strong history of success as the largest classifieds company in the world.”

Bessemer Venture Partners thinks classifieds leader Craigslist is shrinking, leaving room for competitors to pick up market share. “We believe that Craigslist, while still a large and liquid marketplace, has neither innovated nor adapted to serve any specific categories or verticals, which in large part explains its decline,” its report stated.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.