Swappels Craigslist Cease-and-Desist Survival Guide
To describe the last two months with words would certainly be an insult to the English language and it’s ability to communicate emotion. The term emotional roller coaster comes to mind but still doesn’t quite do the experiences justice. I recall reading a blog post by Paul Grahm when I first chose the entrepreneur’s path. His detailed descriptions of the startup life with it’s extreme highs and lows painted a glamorous portrait of behavioral extremes. I have to say, he was spot on. The windy road leading to this moment has certainly been glamorous when examining the path backwards. I’m not going to say it isn’t difficult because it is. What would it be worth if it didn’t suck every last drop of your persistence, dedication, sanity and motivation from you? Nothing. It’s in those moments where every last drop has been extracted that we either drill a new well and find ourselves or we let the drought of adversity run it’s course. Not me though, I’ve found my empty buckets consistently return full when I take the effort to cast them into the dark well.
I certainly wasn’t expecting such a reaction from our giant competitor Craigslist. Our past relationship can only be described with love-hate as the theme. This company had once provided a way to feed myself and survive when my options were grim. It was from this relationship that the vision of Swappel’s potential innovation become obvious in the first place. I can’t really say I believed it when my co-founder Rachel handed me the Fedex overnight parcel addressed to Swappel Inc and myself, Dillon Scott. It came in terribly perfect timing to be honest. I had just stumbled into work from my usual cat-nap night of sleep, or lack of sleep rather. She told me it was from a law firm representing Craigslist and my initial emotional response had a strange resemblance to Eeyore in his usual melancholy state. I immediately knew the letters contents without reading a single word.
Craigslist had sent us a cease-and-desist letter. Our startup built very unique integration software that allows the automation of cross posting our users listings on Swappel to Craigslist. We wanted to provide a tool for our users that would help them generate exposure for items they listed for sale. The plan was for our users to get the benefits of using our improved marketplace while still getting the exposure from Craigslist. As you can imagine this was a big part of our user acquisition and marketing plan. Craigslist gave us 5 days to remove the feature or be left with a bill for $15,000 per agreement violation.
This is supposed to be devastating for a newborn like us. The majority wouldn’t persist beyond the drought. That mentality shows it’s face to our team sometimes. When it does we cast our buckets into the well and we’re reminded why adversity hasn’t and never will slow our transit towards the goal. Truth be told we are very excited from the whole ordeal. Craigslist may not see baby Swappel as a huge potential threat but the fact they saw us at all has to count for something. Craig Newmark himself had been on Swappel. They probably spent more on legal fees to send that letter than our company spent in total expenses to launch our beta. We have reached out to Craigslist in an attempt to help us define a revision to the integration that would provide greater value to Craigslist and it’s users. We will leave this opportunity open in case they decide to assist us in providing value to the online marketplace community.
As for now, we have set our sails on phase 3 of Swappel’s masterplan which we refer to as “Paradise”. We are headed for the unknown with a chance to arrive on a beautiful beach or to end up in a perfect storm. Either way, our team all agrees it’s the journey that we love and not the destination. As for Swappel, our journey has just begun.