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Etsy’s Next Chapter: Reimagining Commerce as a Public Company

Apr 16, 2015

by Chad Dickerson

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Today marks a significant expansion of the Etsy community as we welcome new investors to the Etsy community. Over the past two weeks, I, along with our Chief Financial Officer Kristina Salen, had the opportunity to meet and speak with these investors about Etsy and how we think about our community and our business, particularly our commitments to running a values-led company and a business that focuses on shared success. They understand and respect that we intend to keep our operating philosophy now that we are a public company, and they share our values and vision.

Here’s the video we shared with investors about Etsy and our community:

It was important to us that, in addition to the typical financial firms, individuals who are representative of our Etsy communities were able to participate in our IPO and join our community as investors. We allocated nearly 15% of the IPO to individual investors, as many companies do, but what’s different is the way we did it. We met with retail brokers in Paramus, NJ, Red Bank, NJ, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Orland Park, IL (just outside Chicago) on the road show. We also reserved a portion of the individual investor shares for an IPO participation program with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. So that as many individuals as possible were able to participate, we capped the IPO participation program at $2,500 per person. For the first time in Etsy’s history, we were able to offer members of our community an opportunity to own a piece of Etsy.

The retail brokers we met with around the country greeted us warmly at every stop and our visits and conversations around the country added an important dimension to our IPO and serve as an example of how we live our values. While on the retail portion of road show, we were greeted with appropriately handmade welcomes from Etsy sellers that were unique to the location.

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Welcome sign in Milwaukee, WI

On the road show, it was important to Kristina and me that we represent Etsy and our community of sellers to the fullest, so we wore clothes and accessories from Etsy at every stop.

There’s so much I learned throughout the process. It became even more pronounced for me how much the power of Etsy touches lives and makes communities everywhere better places to live and work. I already knew this but traveling around the country made it even more clear. In the retail portion of our road show, we met a father in Cleveland whose daughter started an Etsy business in college and learned that she loved running a business so much that she decided to pursue additional business courses after finishing college. We met a broker in Paramus, NJ whose wife used the proceeds from her Etsy shop to help fund a school in Cambodia. In Kansas City, we met an analyst at a mutual fund who had just returned from maternity leave and is a passionate Etsy shopper. She told us that she passed the long nights of her child’s early days by scrolling through merchandise on the Etsy mobile app. In Boston, we hosted a lunch for institutional investors and Rebecca Long from Etsy shop The Rubbish Revival found her way in and answered some of the investors’ questions herself! She later sent me a convo with the subject: “Roadshow Party Crasher.” We were glad to see her!

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With Rebecca Long from The Rubbish Revival

As we talked with investors, it was crystal-clear that they were interested in speaking with us about Etsy because of our distinctiveness as a business and a community. The questions we got were quite often focused on our plans to preserve what makes Etsy special as we grow. The investors we met on the roadshow understand that the key to Etsy’s long-term success is building on and extending what has made Etsy successful to date: an inspired community of creative entrepreneurs, buyers who want to buy unique merchandise that they can’t find anywhere else, and a values-led community-based business that focuses on the long term.

The process of going public has also made us a stronger and more disciplined company, with more transparency than ever before. Talking about Etsy and our community with so many investors around the country has given me more conviction than ever that we are building something together that is truly impactful and long-lasting.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge our sellers, as we wouldn’t be here today without them. Their dedication and their feedback, both supportive and constructive, have allowed us to grow, evolve, and grow again. Being a public company gives us even more resources to continue to invest in building the seller platform that they all depend on, helping bring their goods to even more buyers around the world.

Sellers are at the heart of Etsy, and they were naturally at the heart of our transition to a public company. We celebrated together today by inviting sellers to join us at our bell-ringing ceremony at Nasdaq and at a market in Times Square, the “Crossroads of the World,” which showcased some of the inspired creations Etsy sellers have to offer. I hope some of you in New York City have a chance today to stop by and check out the market set up on Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets.

Sellers who joined us in New York City today represent a diverse group — highlighting the types of inspiring stories we hear every day from the marketplace. You can read more about the participating sellers here. I’m proud that we stood shoulder-to-shoulder together today to step into the next chapter of Etsy’s story.

Welcome sign in Pittsburgh, PA

Welcome sign in Pittsburgh, PA

These sellers exemplify Etsy’s mission: to reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world. We believe that Etsy has the power to change the economy, making it about people and communities. In many ways, we’re already changing it, thanks to the hard work of creative entrepreneurs around the world and the support of the thoughtful buyers who support them. Etsy buyers share our principles, and they value craftsmanship, artistry, uniqueness, and authenticity. They care about where they spend their money, they care about directly supporting creative entrepreneurs, and they value the personal connections that drive commerce on Etsy. The growth of our community over nearly a decade speaks to a desire for thoughtful alternatives to mass commerce and impersonal retail, with unique products that better reflect their personal styles and values.

But Etsy isn’t just about the products being sold on Etsy. The Etsy mission to reimagine commerce is really about people, and forging connections between them.

As we’ve grown, Etsy has become a touchpoint of debate for larger issues, including whether the human-centered craftsmanship that we exist to support is compatible with being a public company, which requires a new set of responsibilities to shareholders. We understand the concern, but reject the premise that there is a choice to make between the two. Etsy’s strength as a business and community comes from its uniqueness in the world and we intend to preserve it. We don’t believe that people and profit are mutually exclusive.

We believe that Etsy can be a model for other public companies by operating a values-driven and human-centered business while benefiting people. Financial success is important for the company, because that is what allows us to reinvest in our platform and grow our business sustainably — just like the businesses who have a home on Etsy. When our sellers succeed, our business succeeds, which leads to value for our shareholders. That will be our enduring philosophy and we are committed to running our business in a responsible way that combines our vision with strong execution and discipline, and with faithfulness to our values and conviction.

Today was a memorable day for Etsy. Thank you to all of you who have believed in our mission. We are inspired by you and look forward to supporting you for decades to come. Those of you out there who are James Joyce fans, as I am, may know that he was inspired by Ovid, the great Latin poet. Joyce was particularly fond of Ovid’s phrase, “Omnia mutantur, nihil interit,” which often gets translated as, “Everything changes, nothing is lost.”

That’s true in life, and it’s true for all of us at Etsy as we work to build our community and our company while preserving the passion and the principles that created it.