Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Is Etsy selling out with its upcoming IPO?

January 20, 2015

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If you know Etsy, you know that the artisanal craft site has a reputation for being “Brooklyn hip.” It sells all manner of hand made and vintage objects that seem right at home in the hipster world.

Now, the online company is ready to take the borough’s unique style mainstream. And that’s causing some people to wonder whether Etsy is about to sell out.

Sources told Bloomberg News last week that Etsy is planning an IPO as early as this quarter. Since its beginnings in 2005, the Brooklyn-based company has built itself into a global community of 43.8 million users with 1.2 million stores online, according to its website.

The news drew excitement in the Big Apple, which hasn’t seen an expected IPO this big since 1999. The company is looking to raise $300 million, according to one Bloomberg source.

As with any trend that makes its way into the mainstream, however, some loyalists are unsettled, and the reaction among users has been mixed. Worried about increased charges to meet the demands of shareholders and an overall shift in what the company stands for, some users took to the site’s forums to voice concerns.

  • Etsy seller Erica Holt is quoted by MarketWatch as saying,“They’re too wishy-washy and haven’t stood up for anything they said they were founded on in a long time.”
  • Others said it might make for a better future and generate sales. Seller Jamil, owner of AtomicRestorations shop, had a positive outlook in the article, saying, “For all the potential bad things, I think there would also be a much larger pool of buyers.”

Whatever the case, one thing is for sure — the company has brought in significant revenue. In 2013, 26 million items were listed on the site. All together, its sales totaled $1.3 billion.

Etsy charges users 20 cents to list an item on the website and receives 3.5 percent of every sale.

The biggest draw for artist and small business owners is Etsy’s community of shoppers that allows for reviews, following and networking. It has been a paragon for user-focused e-commerce sites, especially after owners and artists started to leave sites like eBay.

That revolutionary spirit is one that leaders in the company hope it holds on to.

Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson told the Washington Post that the website has maintained a new way of doing business that values people, makers and personal connections. Moving into the future, he believes they can do it on a larger scale.

“I see the opportunity for Etsy to create a new model for how commerce is done in the world,” he said in the interview.

STORY IDEAS

Local Etsy Communities

Etsy and the Big Apple 

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