Craigslist vs. Padmapper
Padmapper is a location-based apartment rental search engine with live filtering, syndicating listings from Oodle, ForRent.com, Apartments.com, Craigslist and other to fill their full-screen map with results that change as the map is moved. It is a popular site that was founded and is run primarily by one young entrepreneur, Eric DeMenthon.
DeMenthon wrote a blog post entitled, “Bye Bye Craigslist,” in which he said, “It’s with a heavy heart that I must announce that PadMapper is no longer including Craigslist rental listings – they’re currently being wiped from the search index. I recently received a Cease and Desist letter from Craigslist, and wasn’t able to get a meeting or convince Craigslist’s lawyer that PadMapper was beneficial to Craigslist and apartment hunters in general. They allow mobile apps to display their listings if you buy a license from them, but not websites.”
The Padmapper founder urged people to reach out to the Craigslist CEO as well as Founder, but implored his supporters to “please, please keep it civil. Perhaps if they see how many people PadMapper has helped, they’ll be willing to consider changing their minds.”
The blog post has garnered over 100 comments as of publication of this story, and responses are rolling in across the web, with many calling for Craigslist to reinstate their feed to Padmapper, even Posterous Co-Founder and YCombinator partner, Garry Tan writing an open letter to Craig Newmark, Craigslist’s founder, stating that “In a fair society, punishments like this are handed down for bad action. Padmapper has not engaged in this whatsoever. Please consider allowing Padmapper to continue to live. It is one of the top essential tools for anyone who is looking for a place to live. As a fan and user of both sites, I urge you to reconsider your decision.”
Tan, like DeMenthon asks people to reach out to Craigslist directly to urge their reconsideration. As of publication, Craigslist has not responded to our request for comment, but this story will be updated as they do.
This highlights the continued mess in real estate
Real estate is a tangled mess of data right now with rules, laws, and uses changing by the minute, but it still looks like the back of an old computer with hundreds of components plugged in, no one really agreeing on the order, or where each plug goes.
Listing syndication is tricky, and at every phase, individuals, legacy brands, and startups are interpreting the data as theirs. When a listing is entered into the MLS, an agent typically believes it is theirs, while a broker will tell you that they have the rights to the content, yet both often sign over copyright to their MLS, and then real estate syndication sites often say content syndicated to them becomes their copyright, and then you have homeowners raising their hand saying, “but it’s MY home! What about my rights?”
This Craigslist letter is likely one of many that the company sends out every month, but it is just like hundreds that are being passed around the circle described above. Craigslist is unique in that it is completely user generated content, so it is not like most listings took major investment of time or money like a MLS listing may, but even so, they are just like everyone in the circle trying to get their piece of the pie.
Craigslist wants people that use the content from their site to pay, especially when the users make money from the content, which is not a new concept, but people don’t understand yet that they are upset about this situation. The real reason it is upsetting most is because this attitude contrasts what most understand their ethos to be – just look at the Craigslist logo.
How will this end? Just like the rest of the real estate data mess – someone’s blood, sweat, and tears will be squashed, and it remains to be seen if David or Goliath will win this battle royale.
UPDATE July 9, 2012: according to the Padmapper Blog, Craigslist’s feed has been restored, but through a third party, not by Craigslist directly.