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Etsy's Chad Dickerson Speaks Out

By Barbara Ortutay
May 6, 2014 9:30AM

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Founded in 2005, Brooklyn-based Etsy, which focuses on unique products for sale, has been profitable since 2009. Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson calls the online marketplace "a personal shopping experience -- really -- in a sea of impersonal retail." Dickerson discussed Etsy, comparisons to eBay and its prospects for an initial public offering.

There's a lot to browse on Etsy. Check out the $2.50 earrings made from the feathers of a "quail raised with love" on a Colorado farm. Or take a look at the $30,000 pub-style bar made to order from pine and cherry.

Unique products such as these are the reason Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson calls the online marketplace "a personal shopping experience -- really -- in a sea of impersonal retail."

Founded in 2005, the Brooklyn-based company is housed in the former home of the Robert Gair Co., named after the 19th century inventor of corrugated cardboard.

The 500-employee startup has been profitable since 2009. Etsy doesn't disclose its revenue figures, but Dickerson says the company is growing. Its vendors sold $1.35 billion worth of goods in 2013, up 51 percent from a year earlier.

Recently, the company announced a pricing policy for its wholesale market, which allows its artists and craft makers to sell directly to retailers ranging from Nordstrom and West Elm to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Etsy takes a 3.5 percent fee for wholesale purchase orders, the same as its regular transaction rates.

Dickerson talked to the Associated Press about Etsy, comparisons to eBay and its prospects for an initial public offering.

The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Question: Is there a typical Etsy seller, and has that changed over time?

Answer: There's no one-size fits all for Etsy sellers. There are sellers in 200 countries around the world so it's very geographically diverse. We have everyone from college students to retirees. The one thing that we do hear is that Etsy sellers really enjoy Etsy because it gives them flexibility to work in their own terms.

There's a woman who sells in Rockford, Illinois, named Amy Michalek. Amy was like many, starting a family. She started doing this as a way to make money while she was taking care of her daughter. One of the things they make are neckties for babies, they're really cute. She started doing so well that she needed help. So she taught her husband how to sew. And her husband quit his job and now he makes more money than he made working at Auto Zone and they're both at home taking of their baby.

Q: When are you looking to do an initial public offering?

A: An IPO is a possible outcome for Etsy. We don't have any plans in the next year. We're focused on building a company. We do want to stay independent. We think it's really important to continue to serve our community and we think independence really matters. We're not the traditional Silicon Valley type of company, where we just have this bloodthirst to go public, but it's definitely a possible outcome. (continued...)

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© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.

Tell Us What You Think


Emily V.:

Posted: 2014-05-07 @ 9:20pm PT
Sell out. You have ruined etsy by allowing mass manufactured goods. The absence of sweatshop merchandise was the most outstanding characteristic of this site. You have doomed it for failure. Greed is bad.

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