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Archive for the ‘Oodle’ Category

Selling Safely With Oodle

One of the biggest problems associated with traditional online classifieds sites is anonymity.  In recent focus groups we conducted, issues relating to anonymous conversations really stood out.  Most complained of flakey behavior (e.g., the buyer who seems interested but then doesn’t show up for appointments).  But almost everyone cited a close call where they felt scared.

We see evidence of this problem in the media where burglaries, assaults, and even murders are attributed to meetings facilitated on Craigslist.  To get a feel for how big this problem really is, Oodle asked the AIM Group, an analyst organization covering the classifieds industry, to compile the number of crimes published in the press that originated with interactions on Craigslist. The results were pretty scary — 330 crimes committed in the past year, more than 43 of which were violent. (AIM Report on Craigslist Crime)

The information AIM compiled is all public — anyone could compile the same data by searching for reported-upon crimes committed as a result of Craigslist contacts. While the proportion of crimes to day-to-day Craigslist interactions may be small, the data we compiled only shows reported crimes, there could have been many more. Also, we think even one murder is too many — buying and selling online should just be safer.



At Oodle safety is a top priority. We’re all about building a social marketplace — a marketplace where who you’re buying from is as important as what you’re buying.  A key part of this mission is identity.  When people post or respond to a listing on Marketplace, they use their real identity on Facebook – enabling you to not only see who the other party is but to see if you’re connected (share a mutual friend, went to the same college, etc.).  By putting real identity back into conversation, Oodle is re-introducing appropriate social norms back into the local community marketplace.  We also do a lot to monitor communication between buyers and sellers — looking for suspicious activity — as well as provide tips on how to buy and sell safely online in our safety center.

In the age of social media when almost everyone has a Facebook profile, why continue to meet up with anonymous buyers and sellers when there’s a better way?

Oodle’s Real-time Stream of Classifieds Listings

From a platform perspective, Oodle has a lot in common with Twitter…

1. We index a real-time a stream of perishable, unique “tweets” (800-900k new messages a day) in the form of classifieds listings. Actually, we do more than just index these listings.  Our real-time infrastructure tags, enhances and prunes the messages flowing through our system.  For example, if someone posts a listing a for “2006 Prius,” we determine that it’s a car listing (hybrid subcompact), year=2006, manufacturer=Toyota, make=Prius and enhance the listing with all the standard features, including a stock photo if one was not submitted.  (In other words, we auto-apply hash tags.)  Moreover, if someone posts a listing that is fraudulent or inappropriate, we have a range of proprietary technologies that automatically detect, flag and remove the message.

2. Users search and browse our stream. Due to the volume and structured nature of our stream, we enable users to quickly slice and dice the stream both through keyword search and by selecting attributes (or tags).   Moreover, we’ve applied our parsing technology to search, so if someone searches for a 2006 Mercedes, we convert the query into year=2006, manufacturer=Mercedes Benz to deliver the most relevant results.

3. Users post “tweets” (classified listings) into our stream.  And the post is a quick and simple process. Recently, as part of the work we did with Facebook Marketplace, we streamlined our post process to make it as lightweight as possible.  It’s not quite 140 characters but we’re getting close. More importantly, we bring the user’s identity into the listing.  So rather than a stream of anonymous content, listings are tied to the identity of the poster (on Oodle, Facebook, MySpace, etc.).  Someone can also see the previous listings posted by that user.

4. Users follow relevant topics in the stream. When you’re looking for a car, you want to see all the listings that are currently posted, as well as new listings as soon as they get introduced into the stream.   With a single click on Oodle, users can easily follow any search (e.g., Acura TLs for under $10k within 60 miles of Burlingame, CA).

5. Users share and discuss “tweets.” It’s easy to share an Oodle listing with your friends on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.  You may see a listing you think a friend would be interested in — or want feedback from a friend (should I buy this car?).   Having said that, we’re really only just getting started in this area.  There are a lot of interesting features coming soon…

It’s exciting to see users become more comfortable with metaphors around streaming, subscribing and sharing.  It not only enables us to better represent the cool stuff we’ve built over the last few years, it serves as a wonderful launch pad for where we’re going with “social classifieds.”

Oodle Teams With MySpace Canada to Address User Demand for Social Classifieds

Today I’m thrilled to announce the launch of MySpace Canada Classifieds http://canada.classifieds.myspace.com/, a new social classifieds service powered by Oodle.

Last year, we launched the MySpace Classifieds channel in the U.S. Since then, we’ve seen tremendous growth as more and more people are turning to social classifieds as a way to buy, sell and find things — from cars to guitars. We’re excited to work with MySpace Canada to bring social classifieds to a broader audience.

Because user profiles are linked to each listing (as opposed to anonymous IDs), there is inherent transparency in who you are selling to, trading with or buying from. These features make MySpace Canada Classifieds a safer environment and provide a more efficient way to connect buyers and sellers.

Users of MySpace Canada can also quickly spread the word about what they’re selling or share information about what they are looking for through MySpace bulletins and blogs. Every listing also has a forum for asking questions or sharing additional details about listing.

We’re thrilled to be working with MySpace Canada to broaden the appeal of classifieds by offering a safer — and more social — alternative for people to share their listings.

Five C’s of Why I Love My Job (and why you should apply for a job at Oodle)

I was recently interviewed by Best Job Ever about why I love my what I do: http://www.bestjobsever.net/

Thinking about applying for a job here at Oodle? (Because we’re hiring!) Following are the top “Five Reasons Why I Love my Job at Oodle”

  1. Classifieds are Cool – Oodle is building the next-generation of classifieds, which leverage the social graphs of Facebook and MySpace, creating an entirely new way for people to buy and sell their stuff.
  2. Creative and Collaborative Environment – As a product manager, I get to outline the product vision for Oodle and define the product features that will make our site loved and used by millions of users. Ideas, however, come from everywhere — from users, from our partners, from marketing and engineers. My job is to take those ideas and work with a really smart and innovative team to turn them into reality. We work in a very agile driven environment where product works collaboratively with engineering to get an idea turned into reality in just a couple of weeks.
  3. Customer-focused Product – I feel very fortunate to be able to work on product that has impact. How cool is it that you can launch a product and get immediate feedback from users? On the morning that we launched Facebook Marketplace, we had over 500 new postings within the first hour — many were made by international users who came to check out the new site. At the end of the day, we had over 1000 responses to our survey from users giving us feedback. Over the weekend, we had a number of users writing in telling us how much they loved the new service. In fact, one user found their dream poodle on Oodle and said they are telling all their friends to check out Oodle!
  4. Company Culture – I love how the employees of Oodle really drive the company culture at Oodle. We have Teaching Tuesdays where anybody at Oodle can teach something that they know a lot about, e.g. how to Salsa, Yoga, play poker, even do your taxes. We have Foodle every Friday, where everyone brings in a potluck dish to share. We celebrate monthly birthdays. We have annual traditions such as cook-offs, camping trips, ski trips — all ideas initiated by someone at the company. While we work hard, Oodle is very family oriented and friendly, which is key to having a work/life balance.
  5. CEO – Craig Donato, Oodle’s CEO, is just about the friendliest and happiest CEO you will ever meet. In addition to be being a visionary and innovative leader, he has a passion and energy that is infectious and inspires us all. Have I persuaded you to apply for a job here? Send your resume to Jobs@Oodle.com

Using Online Classifieds: Some Safety Tips

With purse strings tightened, more and more people are turning to online classifieds for great deals — or to make a few extra dollars selling items no longer being used. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that has not gone unnoticed by scammers, who have become more widespread and creative in how they use online listings as a tool to target potential victims.

Here at Oodle, safety is a top priority and we’ve taken a strong stance to combat classifieds SPAM. We use proprietary fraud detection software to scan each and every listing before it can enter our network. In addition, our support team is armed with proprietary moderation tools for tracking down suspicious behavior and new scams. Working with the Better Business Bureau, we recently published an online classifieds safety guide to protect both buyers and sellers against potentially harmful situations. Following are a few simple tips to make sure you have a safe — and successful — classifieds experience:

  • Always meet in a public place — and avoid making an in-person transaction alone
  • Inspect all items before you buy
  • Beware of underpriced offers — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Don’t wire money or take advance payments
  • Insist on cash–never use money wires, MoneyGrams or Western Union
  • Never give out personal identifiable information, such as your credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or bank numbers
  • Only pay for shipping if you know the seller

To see the entire guide, visit http://safety.oodle.com/files/Oodle_Safety_Brochure.pdf.

If you do happen to run into a fraudster or are suspicious of a certain listing, tell us about it so we can spread the word.

Online Classifieds Sites Make It Easy to Repurpose, Reuse — and Share Your Stuff

After watching Annie Leonard’s “Story of Stuff,” I’ve just learned that while the US is only five percent of the world’s population, we consume 30 percent of the world’s goods. Clearly, America has a bad consumption habit. Unfortunately, the demand for these goods have consequences beyond financial woe. In addition to the US producing more than 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals that pollute our air and water supplies, each American produces something like 4.5 pounds of trash each day — that’s more than twice that of 30 years ago!

By sharing, reusing and giving our stuff away, we can curb the purchase of new items and the disposal of old ones. Following are a few tips for using online classifieds’ sites to make giving, sharing and searching for used stuff as easy as possible:

  1. Give Your Stuff Away: Sites like Freecycle.com and Handmedowns.com allow you to give away your stuff online locally. The new Facebook Marketplace allows you to give things away to friends — as well as the larger Facebook community, which includes charities.
  2. Sell Your Stuff Online: Classifieds sites, such as Oodle.com and AOL Classifieds allow you post an online classified ad for free. On the Facebook Marketplace, you can even sell your stuff and designate the proceeds to one of thousands of charities nationwide.
  3. Find it Used: Online classifieds make it easy to search for items by category — from baby gear to autos. Can’t find what you are looking for? Sign up for email alerts that notify you just as soon as a listing appears — or “Ask For it” on the Facebook Marketplace.

For more information about how you can curb your intake of new items and lessen your trash output, take a look at the thestoryofstuff.com.

Find the Perfect Vacation Rental on Oodle

The economic crisis may have put a crimp in travel budgets, but that does not mean foregoing a great vacation.

One way for families to save money is to rent an apartment or home in lieu of staying in a hotel. A great place to begin the search is Oodle.com’s vacation rentals. Oodle aggregates vacation listings from more than 50 sites, including greatrentals.com, vrbo.com, cyberrentals.com, hutz.co and vacationrentals.com, making it easy to find the perfect vacation rental.  If you don’t find exactly what you are looking for, Oodle allows you to set up an alert, so you will be notified just as soon as a vacation rental that matches your requirements is posted.

Keep in mind that renting a house or apartment is not like booking a hotel room – it’s a binding contract between you and the homeowner. In the event you need to cancel, you may have to do so within a week or even 30 days for a full refund.

Vote for Oodle for the 2009 Webware 100!

I’m happy that Oodle is one of the Webware 100 finalists (CNET’s annual program in which readers select their favorite 2.0 apps).

Please share the love the and vote for Oodle!

2009 Oodle Annual Ski Trip

Oodle employees and their families enjoyed a fabulous day of snow fun at Sugar Bowl resort. Watch it on Facebook!

Video courtesy of Oodler David West.

Oodle Raises an Additional $5.6M in Funding

I’m pleased to announce that today Oodle closed an additional $5.6M in funding from our existing investors — Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures and JAFCO Ventures.

Oodle had a great year in 2008.  We brought some great partners into our network, including Walmart and MySpace, and our traffic more than tripled. Indeed, last month we hit a big milestone when we received more than 10M visits.

I’m really excited about where we’re going this year.  More and more people are turning to classifieds in this tough economic environment to find great deals or raise extra cash.

Our mission, as always, is to find innovative ways to improve the experience of using online classifieds.  And one of the best opportunities to do that is to make the experience more social.  With our partnerships with MySpace and Facebook we’re now poised to usher in a new generation of classifieds!

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