Oodle Signs Facebook; Bets on Social-Infused Classifieds

Facebook will give up preliminary efforts to build its own classifieds 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 MySpaceWal-Mart, Media General, Cox, The Washington Post Co., CanWest and others as Oodle distributors. 

CEO Craig Donato told us that 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 classifieds category, he said.

“People don’t like how anonymous classifieds are,” said Donato. The social networks “create an environment of trust and safety. With Craig’s List, 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,” Donato 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 give-aways and barter goods. “If you have tickets to a ball game, you might be emailing 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 ten 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.