The wildly successful Internet marketplace, Craigslist.org, with its free classified advertising, discussion groups, personal ads and erotic services, is not a place that some families want to visit, says Cary Peters, who is offering an alternative.
His new Scottsdale company is seeking to give people an online destination for buying and selling, hiring and housing without offering adult-oriented content that many families prefer to avoid.
In January, Peters and his entrepreneur partner, Dwaine Canova, launched ChosenList.com, which they bill as a clean Web site "without the distractions of unsavory listings."
Post a photo to sell your hot rod and put your busty girlfriend behind the wheel, and ChosenList's "neighborhood watch" will have it removed. Same goes for spicy language in ad texts, or trying to sell boxes of old adult magazines, or drumming up customers for a massage side business.
Just like Craigslist.org, with its classifieds zoned by cities worldwide, ChosenList.com advertises stuff at no cost from autos to yard sales in 43 American cities, with a goal of 300 metro sites established by year's end. The company generates revenue primarily by charging for job postings, especially marketing them through video, where, for example, a boss might discuss a job opening and duties and show off the workplace.
It is also striving to be at the cutting edge of video classifieds, where people videotape their merchandise and post them online to be eyeballed by potential buyers.
ChosenList.com is opening offices at the Arizona State University SkySong campus, which incubates start-up companies and nurtures grass-roots business development and innovation.
"We are an alternative if you are concerned about content," said Peters, president and chief operating officer. "And if you are concerned about your 15-year-old looking for a skateboard and being just two computer mouse clicks from the 'sporting' section to ones for 'men seeking men' or 'adult gigs.' "
Peters, 41, married without children and a member of the megachurch Christ's Church of the Valley in Peoria, said he was taking off his "company hat" to say, "I am a believer, and my CEO is a believer. I try not to put the Christian in a box."
Yet, he said, "This is a business. I am a capitalist. I am here to make money, but I really believe the market is yearning for a site out there that has clean content."
So far, ChosenList.com, whose mission is "clean content for classifieds, careers and communities," has flagged and removed only two submissions, including a car ad with a woman showing too much. A polite, low-keyed e-mail was sent explaining its removal because "we are trying to keep it family-friendly."
"The first way we filter out that content is by not having the category," Peters said. "If you don't have an erotic services section, 99 percent of that is not going to get posted." A second guard is "the neighborhood watch of volunteers," people who can review posts, watch videos, examine pictures and make sure they all meet the restrictions of ChosenList.com. A third force, he said, is giving anyone going onto the site the freedom to flag what might seem objectionable and convey that to the site administrator. "Our policy is that, within 24 hours, anything flagged is going to be removed."
The Scottsdale entrepreneur, who previously had spent 12 years in loan work with JPMorgan Case, had considered several names for the Web site, including "Caryslist," but was advised against it. "ChosenList," he said, emphasizes the idea that "you choose your next career, choose your next car or house. Be the one chosen for your next job."
Its emphasis on clean content aside, ChosenList hopes to capitalize on the popularity of online video, led by YouTube.com, which gets 12 billion views a month. Peters anticipates a massive market for employment video. Whereas Jobbing.com charges $389 for employment video ads, ChosenList charges $95. "We are targeting small- to medium-price businesses," he said. "We are not targeting large, corporate America."
Calling the potential market "enormous," Peters is lining up videographers to commercially tape in the cities served. Video résumés are another niche being developed.
Part of his work, Peters said, is educating the public and companies on what online video can do to market them and their merchandise and services.
Someone, for example, can videotape a dining room set from every angle, then post the 45-second segment online for potential buyers to see. Convinced then of the set's value, they would be willing to drive 25 miles to buy it, Peters said. Without seeing it, they may just pass it up.
"Video sells better than pictures," he said