Craigslist, the website that brought classified ads from newspapers to the web in 1995, has joined the translation train. Like other American Internet giants, they saw the need to support more languages than just English (and Spanish).
Founder Craig Newmark originally created the service for the San Fransisco Bay Area. In 2000, he started conquering more and more cities in the U.S. As of September 2007, Mr. Newmark’s company has established itself in 450 cities in 50 countries. The site counts 27 million unique visitors monthly.
Yet as TechCrunch reported last month: competitor Kijiji – owned by Ebay – is picking up speed and even claims to surpass Craigslist one day. The EBay executive in charge of Kijiji explained to TechCrunch why they started Kijiji in the first place:
We did not believe Craigslist was going to be successful internationally with an English-only site. Craigslist has had zero localization. It is all English, run out of San Francisco.
This tough talk must have made an impression on Craigslist’s staff because normally they ‘tend to do stuff without much announcement‘, but now they ‘figured you might want to know that we implemented multiple language support for craigslist in November. Just Spanish then, but last week we added more languages’.
These languages are Italian, French, Portuguese and German (click for examples). It seems like more and more major companies think of multilingual support as the key for further growth. Although Craigslist might be pushing it too far: “Basque, maybe Klingon, are next”.