Oodle Signs Facebook; Bets on Social Infused Classifieds

Facebook will give up preliminary efforts to build its own classified service and will have classifieds powered by Oodle’s network instead. The effort, announced in Oodle’s blog, will launch by Q1 2009. With the signing, Facebook joins MySpace, Wal-Mart, Media General, Cox, The Washington Post Co., CanWest and others as Oodle distributors.

CEO Craig Donato told us Oodle’s distribution now reaches 100 million users, including its international efforts in Canada, the U.K., and recent adds in Ireland and India. But the addition of Facebook might move the company into (more) uncharted territories. Social networks have the capability to change the classified category, he said.

“People don’t like how anonymous classifieds are,” said Donato. The social networks “create an environment of trust and safety. With Craigslist, someone with an anonymous ID shows up at your house to look at your car.”

The significance of having landed both Facebook and MySpace, and possible competitive issues between them, is downplayed by Donato. “Different audiences, different partners,” he said, noting that both have their own look and feel. He noted that Military.com is another social network that has signed with Oodle.

Donato added that Oodle’s current applications will soon be extended to giveaways and barter goods. “If you have tickets to a ball game, you might be e-mailing all your friends to see if they want them. We can create a more efficient way to pass things along. It is almost a precursor to classifieds.”

Speaking in general, Oodle is going strong, Donato told us. The 45-person company did go through a recent layoff of 10 staffers, consolidating account management, etc., as an effort to conserve resources. But since then, it has hired five new engineers. “We have a lot of product work to do,” said Donato.

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