Etsy’s IPO on NASDAQ set to soar

5 Mar 2015

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Etsy image, via Scott Beale/Laughing Squid/Flickr at laughingsquid.com

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Online craft marketplace Etsy is expected to make its IPO on NASDAQ in the US in coming weeks, targeting an initial US$100m.

Brooklyn, New York-based Etsy’s 10-year success story has lead it to file a prospectus for a public offering, with the company prepared to market itself to investors within a few weeks.

Connecting millions of shoppers, makers and craft fans around the world, Etsy’s “ecosystem” is based on a fairly simple premise. Rob Kalin set up the company in 2005 as a platform from which to sell his handmade, wooden computers.

Now it acts as a service to allow like-minded people do the same, and it’s quite popular, although there has been criticism of how the business model has changed over the years, with this IPO continuing a perceived thirst for profit, rather than creativity.

‘Selling out’

“Etsy is betraying its original artists by selling out to make money,” artist Joy Appenzeller told The Guardian recently.

“Financially this may make some people very rich, but it is not what Etsy was meant to be about. Artists and crafters are now just window dressing to give the website the appearance that (items) are handmade, but in most cases they are not. They have become the online version of Pottery Barn.”

Kalin, replaced by Chad Dickerson as CEO, has been a vocal critic of the way the business is going recently. Before leaving the company, he went as far as saying, “We do not want Etsy itself to be a big tuna fish. Those tuna are the big companies that all us small businesses are teaming up against.”

However, that’s not how it seems to be doing business now, although on the surface the soundings remain the same.

“Since inception, Etsy has challenged conventional ways of thinking about commerce, business, individuals and communities,” said Dickerson. “I intend to keep our unconventional operating philosophy as we become a public company, and I welcome new investors into our community.”

The New York Times reports that Etsy will finance a new project as a result of the IPO, Etsy.org, “a non-profit it established in January to help train female entrepreneurs”.

Gordon Hunt is senior communications and context executive at NDRC. He previously worked as a journalist with Silicon Republic.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com