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Meet the man behind New York’s other billion dollar internet company. This one makes money

The technology industry these days has taken on the veneer of a glam-rock festival — lots of venture capitalists, founders and executives taking center stage and enjoying the bright lights — or quips on social media and hamming it up on video shows. And perhaps that’s why someone like Chad Dickerson, chief executive officer of Etsy, a Brooklyn, New York-based global marketplace for arts and crafts goods, is a breath of fresh air. A quiet man who speaks very softly, Dickerson is an unlikely success story in the razzle-dazzle world of ecommerce.

Dickerson, who started his life in the media world (he worked for Salon), and spent time at Yahoo, ended up joining Etsy in 2008 as its chief technology officer. Etsy, which was started in 2005 by Jared Tarbell and Rob Kalin, had gone through a series of management upheavals and from the outside felt like a temperamental middle child of busy parents. About two years ago, when the company was in middle of one of those upheavals and was facing stalled growth, the board (which includes Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures) bet that Dickerson was the right man to lead the company into the future. It doesn’t matter who made that call — it was an inspired one.

Etsy has had its share of issues, but Dickerson has confronted them head on. He hasn’t hid behind a PR machine, and is open to talking to either Etsy buyers or sellers, anytime. He is unlikely to be every confused for a “internet CEO poster child.” He has shock of gray hair and is losing his battle with looming middle age. And he smiles a lot — using it as a way to put everyone at ease.

Two year turnaround

The company is on track to cross $1 billion in total annual transactions — twice as much in 2011 when Dickerson took over as CEO. It has 30 million registered users (versus 10 million when Dickerson stepped up) and by the end of 2013 will have a million sellers hocking their wares — bags, belts, hats, Siracha hot sauce and trinkets — on the Etsy platform. And if that is not enough, the company has built a global payment system to rival the likes of PayPal (s ebay) and has gone global through community-driven translations.


When I asked him why he has succeeded has as chief executive, he explained that “because I was the chief technology officer, I got to learn the entire business very intimately, from infrastructure to how we interacted with sellers and buyers.” It just so happens he completely loves the product — Dickerson does most of his shopping on Etsy — and believes in the higher purpose of Etsy.

Dickerson, who grew up in the tobacco growing part of North Carolina, was an English major in college interested in media and journalism. “I wanted to go to someplace else,” he quipped. While attending Duke University, he took math and science as minors and slowly fell in love with technology. “I am often surprised that I ended up in a tech career,” Dickerson told me a few months ago when we met for coffee in Manhattan. “I don’t think of myself as technologist but more as a student of human behavior who accidentally ended up in technology.”

Always be hustling

If anything, Dickerson is resourceful and makes the most of opportunities. As a 10-year-old kid, when he was trying to build a lawn mowing business, he tried to talk all the local realtors into giving him contracts to mow the lawns instead of trying to do one-off deals with homeowners. At one time he was helping mow 30 lawns a week — and a lot of money he made from that effort went towards his college fund. Upon leaving from college, Dickerson worked for the Raleigh News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C. and worked on its website in the early 1990s so he could hang around the newsroom.


When Dickerson speaks, he speaks softly. You have to strain hard to understand the meaning of his carefully chosen words. He truly believes in the manifest destiny of Etsy. Dickerson is unwavering in his belief that his 450-employee company can become an engine of global trade like none before.

“Etsy, technologically and culturally, is a platform that provides meaning to people, and an opportunity to validate their art, their craft,” Dickerson said

Dickerson believes that Etsy is at the forefront of the maker movement and a new way of commerce that is the polar opposite of the mass-produced industrial economic system. An increasing number of people are looking to connect with those who make their products and want to find the story behind the products. “Back in 2005 when I was at Yahoo, we would have hackathons and they would bring together people in a pretty meaningful manner,” he recalled. Etsy, is a way of hacking commerce and bringing people together.

People, not math, are the key to commerce

“Most e-commerce tries to reduce everything to math, but I refuse to think of it as a math problem,” said Dickerson. All it takes is spending time with Etsy buyers and sellers to learn that all commerce is about real human interaction. “I was talking to two Etsy sellers about my son and they sent me a book to read to my son,” he said. “You learn a lot from talking to people and not looking at data.” Dickerson, who often is the first person in company’s DUMBO office and the last one out, has a great way of describing Etsy: “At the end of every transaction, you get something real from a real person. There is an existential satisfaction to that.”

But that doesn’t mean Dickerson isn’t paying respect to the tenets of any modern internet business — cloud, mobile, social and data. A few years ago, Etsy embraced data and used it to build a more informed platform. The CTO-turned-CEO also pushed the company to a modern infrastructure that is good for Etsy’s recent growth.


And the focus for his team these days is to make mobile easier not only for buyers, but also for sellers. Etsy has embraced mobile completely, and things have picked up for the company because of it. “The reason we developed Direct Checkout (a payment system) is because we wanted to make it easy for people to not have to go to third-party websites and make payments,” Dickerson said. That is quite a painful experience. Mobile accounts for about 45 percent of company’s monthly visits and by next early next year, it will be the majority of Etsy’s traffic.

“The soul of our company is our marketplace and our community,” said Dickerson. “We succeed when we helps others succeed, and that is the core value of our company.” And that is why Etsy became a Certified B corporation (a kind of for-profit U.S. company that “considers society and the environment in addition to profit in their decision making process“) — much like Warby Parker and Patagonia. Etsy, which takes 3.5 percent of each sale on the platform, has been profitable for a few years.

The company raised $40 million in Series F funding last year(at a valuation exceeding $600 million) and is using those funds to become a global platform. (It has raised a total of $91.7 million in funds from Index Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Accel Partners, and others.)

“We are looking at international growth and hoping that in next four years, international sales will account for half of the total sales,” he said. At present, about 20 percent of Etsy’s sales volume is from international buyers and sellers.

Dickerson believes that the Etsy platform can play the role of a wholesale trade show and connect artisans to smaller/independent stores and help them growth their business. “When I started working in technology almost twenty years ago, it was about building something on the web,” he said. “It is now about building something with the web.” 

Click here for Chad Dickerson’s response to the comments

238 Responses to “Meet the man behind New York’s other billion dollar internet company. This one makes money”

  1. UsedToLoveEtsy

    I’m another Etsy seller who became disillusioned with them several years ago. They’re so far away from what they started out to be, that Etsy’s nearly unrecognizable. I don’t keep much in my shop, anymore, but when I do list something, I list quickly and run fast. I don’t even want to know what the latest “gate” is because it can be so upsetting and all consuming.

    450 staff members, and there still isn’t a way to call customer service. They have all of those lovely toy phone booths, though, so that’s nice. But think about it. What other business doesn’t provide a phone number so their customers can call them? It’s crazy! I don’t understand why anyone would sign up for their direct checkout. If someone is going to have that much control over my money, they’re going to give me their phone number.

    I just looked on Etsy’s front page. I don’t see the word “Handmade” anywhere.

    I know that Etsy has to do whatever is necessary in order to pay back all of the VC money they’ve raked in, but to do it at the expense of those who made them what they are, is rotten.

    I still shop on Etsy occasionally, but only with supply sellers with whom I’ve had long relationships. Trying to shop for anything else is nearly impossible because of the resellers who come up at the top of searches. It’s very frustrating.

    Mr. Malik, I’d love to see you interview Jonathan Peacock from Zibbet, or Tony Ford from ArtFire. They both communicate openly and frequently with their sellers, and actually do listen to the feedback they get, implementing ideas and suggestions from their sellers when it’s feasible to do so. They never ignore their sellers, and they don’t close our shops without warning. We’re allowed to speak freely in the forums. We can call them on the phone. They treat us like the important customers that we are.

    • And don’t forget one of the most important things about Zibbet and Jonathan: If they make a mistake, they aren’t afraid to own up to it and ensure that it is corrected. Etsy has had numerous mistakes, but will never admit to anything. To me, that is poor way to manage a business.

  2. HappilyleftEtsy

    The best thing I ever did for my business was to move away from Etsy. I opened my shop there in 2005 and did quite well. I try to keep emotions at a distance when dealing with my livelihood but my moral compass just could not continue to be associated with a venue that treated artisans so poorly and offers zero customer service. You mentioned in one of your responses that “they don’t respond fast enough, how about they don’t respond at all”

    The mass resellers, the promotion of the same resellers and denial of such, blatant favoritism, shutting down legitimate businesses because they dare to speak out and call attention to Etsy atrocities, mutings, bannings, refusal to provide reasonable customer service (contact them through twitter** you have to be kidding** but no) etc.

    I now sell on a site that has great customer service, they are open and transparent with their customers, and they offer a low monthly fee that encourages growth. I can handle any or all sales off site without FEAR of fee avoidance closing of my store. Sure they can’t please everyone, but they communicate openly with their customers ( the sellers) they welcome input and work to implement things that will genuinely grow our businesses. They don’t take millions in VC monies so they can’t be all things but they acknowledge any weaknesses and let us know when and if they can be improved. The best part is that I can sell 10,000 a month and pay only $12.00 total. All those tools and service for one low flat rate. I know a fantastic business opportunity when I see one.

    Etsy sellers have been asking for things before I opened in 2005 and they continue to request them multiple times each day: phone support, any customer support, more categories, less muting, less resellers, less favoritism, fewer unprofessional things like Kiss and Make up, Darn this item is sold, Uh-oh with a three armed sweater, are we children?

    Rather than contact Etsy for their response, just spend a couple of hours reading the Etsy forum. There is where you will see the truth, as much as Etsy allows, which is highly limited by fear of muting as well as actual perma mutes.

    It isn’t just a few disgruntled sellers, it abounds!

    • Negative Nancy

      I am sure etsy sellers would love to know what the
      “I now sell on a site that has great customer service”
      or even a list of etsy alternatives.

      I relish the day someone moves in and steal etsy’s customers (the sellers)

      Google Fiber will be doing it to cable companies that have been ripping off customers for years, someone needs to step in and do it to etsy. There is enough angst at this point that I think many sellers would happily leave for another platform that could make and keep promises to sellers about integrity and quality assurance. Its only a matter of time. It almost seems like the recent changes at etsy has primed us all to leave with ease and leave etsy as the hong kong charm bracelet megaplex that it is becoming.

    • Negative Nancy

      @ happilyleftetsy
      I am sure etsy sellers would love to know what site you now use.
      “I now sell on a site that has great customer service”
      Even a list of legit etsy competition, thats the real article there. Who is in place to replace etsy.

      I relish the day someone moves in and steals etsy’s customers (the sellers)

      Google Fiber will be doing it to cable companies that have been ripping off customers for years, someone needs to step in and do it to etsy. There is enough angst at this point that I think many sellers would happily leave for another platform that could make and keep promises to sellers about integrity and quality assurance. Its only a matter of time. It almost seems like the recent changes at etsy has primed sellers to leave with ease. Etsy can downward spiral into the hong kong charm bracelet megaplex that it is becoming without handmade artisans and artists.

      • HappilyleftEtsy

        I now sell on Artfire. I don’t participate in the forum because of my awful experiences with Etsy forum, but I read them every day. If sellers take advantage of the education offered by Artfire administration and the seller mentors, they will benefit greatly. They really help out and work with you unlike posting on Etsy where you get so much snark. Many Etsy sellers have disdain for their administration and carry that over to AF which is uncalled for because the AF admin are ever present and always willing to help, even over the phone on weekends and major holidays. Yes, phone!

        It took me a little while to get established but now sales are booming. I sell 10 times more wholesale on AF than I ever did on Etsy. Of course I take care of those cherished business accounts off site because I conduct my business as a professional so 10,000 of my items shipped don’t show in my artfire shop but the sales came from people who contacted me through artfire so I credit those numbers to artfire. Etsy sellers point out lower sales numbers for AF but I am a perfect example of selling 5 times my volume off site because AF is fine with taking my business where ever I want to handle it instead of FORCING me to make listings for wholesale accounts. No fees so no fee avoidance issues. I know from the forums others do the same, one seller of wholesale out of India and one soap maker that are hugely successful also go offsite. They both spend lots of time helping others get going, volunteers to boot. SEO experts spend days helping new sellers, too.

        I still read Etsy forum as well and the rancor towards AF is unbelievable. Those folks are angry. They tried AF for a short period of time trying to sell the way they did on Etsy and fail because Etsy is so large that you follow their rules for success which dooms you to succeed anywhere else. They do everything wrong in regards to SEO because Etsy SEO doesn’t work anywhere but Etsy so they go running back bashing AF every chance they get. The AF forum has Etsy sellers that come in guns a blazing attacking the administration because they are so used to Etsy’s antics that they just can’t comprehend the outstanding attention and service offered by AF. Others try to talk them down and explain things but often it falls on deaf ears. Etsy is almost cult – like, so scary.

  3. This is your Bio OM:

    Om is the founder of GigaOM. He has been a journalist for over 20 years. He was part of the founding team of as a senior editor. He joined Red Herring as a senior writer in August 2000 & Business 2.0 in March 2003. He has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and MIT Technology Review. Om is the author of Broadbandits: Inside the $750 Billion Telecom Heist. Om also blogs on his personal blog, Om.Co. Follow him on Twitter @om

    20 years as a journo? Well these comments should be enough for you to start digging into the truth. These posts are not made up by disgruntled E sellers they are the truth, E doesn’t care about the artisans that have made them who they are.

    Is this an article about how a an NYC e-commerce company got to be big time, then yeah your right it did with VC’s only 91 million as you posted. Or is this an article about Etsy? I think you wanted the latter and had no idea you would see these types of comments.

    Sorry we all derailed your pretty blog. But the truth well its not always pretty and thank Gore for the internet.
    If your ever interested in writing an article about a venue that does have CS does understand that artisans handmade should have there own category then look up Artfire.

    The Coo there Tony Ford is very personable and he does listen to his customers I know because I am one.

    But not only that they are working on a vision of handmade/tech with the new makers house in Tuscon Google it.

    The difference between AF and E is VC’s.So you wouldn’t be interested cause we are just artists over there that pay a monthly fee.

  4. I am very thankful for and grateful to Etsy and what it has allowed me to accomplish with my small business. I do sell in the most saturated category but have managed to make myself a nice living on which I support myself and my son, as a single mom.

    That said, I completely admit to turning a bit of a blind eye to the issues that are being discussed here in the comments. My first instinct is to stick up for the platform that has made it possible to realize my dream and provide for my family. I’ve had nothing but good experiences as an Etsy shop owner. However, I need to realize that so many wouldn’t be speaking out if there weren’t an issue. I’m definitely going to be keeping my eyes open and stop ignoring this topic. Things are great for my shop now, but I can’t keep my head in the sand and think that that can’t change in a blink of an eye.

  5. Discusted

    I remember how great the Etsy forums were about 3 years ago, give or take a few months. Then Etsy butchered them and the moderators told the sellers to join teams.

    Teams don’t have the same character as the regular forums. Sellers, including myself, enjoyed interacting before the Etsy forums were broken up.

    Artfire is the second largest handmade, vintage and supply selling venue. How about giving some press coverage about Artfire. Tony Ford is the COO of Artfire and he and his very small staff do a fantastic job for their sellers.

    Unlike Etsy, Artfire has terrific customer service and they DO have a phone # that sellers can call during business hours.

    Another great thing about selling on Artfire is that they have solved the reseller problem. Artfire provides a section on Artfire called Commercial where resellers can sell their products and they don’t have to hide the fact that they are resellers.

    The Artfire forums are fantastic too. They are self moderated.

  6. Ms Informed brings up many good points and opinion – backed up by her research and Facts!! Resellers are a horror and totally frustrating for we who are Etsy Sellers.
    As are vintage sellers selling non-vintage. These are facts, it is not fair, IMHO, to say we/they are “complainers and moaners”.

    This is not a perfect world, I totally get that, but there are many obvious issues that need to be worked on diligently, again, IMHO.

    The tests being run without notifying sellers is a horror, case in point the announcement today that the PayPal/Direct Checkout is/was a test, a test that lost many sellers lost sales.

    On a positive note, in spite of all this, I love having my Etsy shop – not being able to afford a B&M shop, I am able to pursue my lifelong dream.

    • Ms. Informed

      I work hard and use the money I make in my etsy shop to pay my bills and feed my children, so your appreciation of my comment means a lot to me, although I am sad that I felt compelled to post it.

      It is just a small sampling of items I have reported within that last 2 weeks. Contrary to Mary’s post above, doing a simple search for “vintage jadite cake stand” takes about 2 seconds and reporting it with links of proof takes another 10 seconds. I have done this repeatedly with no results. The items that I’ve reported are selling daily, essentially taking the food out my child’s mouth. These are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of brand-new items created by wholesale factories. I blame etsy as it is painfully obvious my reports of violations are being purposefully overlooked while the offending items continue to fly off the virtual shelves,

        • LifeDuringWartime

          There seems to be little consensus among the members of Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity Team about what vintage is. For some reason, the concept of vintage being unaltered items at least 20 years old is confusing to the staff. There are items listed as both made to order and Vintage from the 1940s, in the Vintage category. The items are not taken from a huge stash of “new old stock” but are brand new items the seller will assemble to your specifications. Reporting these listings is futile.

  7. AnotherSellerNotWillingToUseRealName

    I see that Sandy has already mentioned the new 5-star feedback system, one that is inherently problematic for sellers. But I’d like to weigh in, too.

    The star system was first tested last week — and within days, several hundred comments were posted, nearly all asking Etsy to reconsider.

    It was, nonetheless, implemented this morning. And within about 2 minutes, there were more than 200 comments asking Etsy to reconsider.

    I can’t be the only person struck by the disconnect between Chad’s words to you and the reality of what we has taken place in just one week. (“You learn a lot from talking to people and not looking at data.”)

    So yes, I do recommend you also explore the fora threads related to the star feedback system.

    And, oh? While you’re digging thru the fora, perhaps pay a bit of attention to the discussions re: new homepage look for first time buyers; I think it, too, is illustrative.

  8. Another example of Etsy management not listening to the sellers is with this new EBay 5 star feedback system. Several months ago, a survey was sent to shop owners regarding the feedback system. Once again, Etsy did not care what the shop owners wanted and implemented a feedback system that is unfair to sellers.

    With this new feedback system, sellers are no longer able to leave feedback for a buyer. Sellers cannot offer their side of the story if a buyer leaves neutral or negative feedback. I have spoken with many who had completed the survey and NOT ONE said they wanted an EBay 5 star rating system. What they wanted was a fair exchange between buyer and seller.

    EBay sellers left in droves when their 5 star feedback system was implemented. Why would Etsy want to suffer the same effects by copying the same feedback system?

    Check the forums on this subject as well and you will see the reactions, disapprovals and concerns voiced by the sellers.

  9. SlayBelles

    I believe that the anger that you are picking up from these comments is a direct result of sellers feeling duped. We bought into the whole community of artisans schtick, brought buyers on board, helped each other by forming teams, promoting other shops, and offering advice in the forums. We were given the sense that these community based activities were what Etsy was about, what made it different from other e-commerce sites.

    Turns out the sense of community is another marketing tool. We are the Judas goats who lead buyers into the venue with the promise of handmade, vintage and craft supplies. Our forums, particularly in their new inception, while they do lend to a sense of community, primarily serve the corporation as they take the place of customer service. We answer our own questions, solve our own problems — with customers, payments, shipping concerns — because Etsy cannot or will not provide customer service.

    The forums, a word that refers to a place of free and open discourse, are neither free nor open. Critical debate is not only frowned upon, it is punished with mutings and shop closures. Google ‘etsy shop suspended’ or ‘etsy muted’ and see what comes up. Most of the mutings are a result of admin not liking the poster’s comments — not that they were rude, wrong, obscene or slanderous — just not liked. We are not allowed to question admin’s comments or behavior. Our Terms of Use are written on the wind. As Wired magazine said they are “vague to the point of evasive” and questioning is not only frowned upon but dangerous if you want your shop to stay open.

    I believe Etsy has deliberately nurtured a culture of fear to maintain their illusion of community. As long as the ‘goats’ stay quiet all is well. There have been a number of calls to action. Bali-gate saw many shops close for a day in protest. This weekend’s ‘experiment’ with Direct Checking has also seen many shops, my own included, turn off their DC in protest. Unfortunately these activists represent only a small population of members. Only members who use the forums or who have had customers comment on their inability to use PP will be aware.

    Commenting on the corporations lack of ethics is uncomfortable. I have a very strong sense of biting the hand that feeds me. When that hand, however, is covered with deceit and chicanery to further corporate aims, not biting means I accept these actions. I don’t.

  10. reality check

    I know so many sellers from my day to day life in the real world (galleries, art and craft shows) who have closed their Etsy shops. There was a day when every serious artist and crafts-person seemed to have a little shop on Etsy. Not any more. Or they are greatly minimized in products offered.

    There are a few categories on Etsy that are not over-run by resellers such as woodworking and paper-making. Jewelry is the worst category: it is especially saturated with resellers (probably 50 – 60 percent resellers would be our wild guess). Once a customer gets burned by buying factory made jewelry, it rains down badly on the seller who sent their buyer to Etsy. If you are a jeweler and want to be taken seriously, you don’t send your buyers to Etsy.

    The inexpensive stand-alone options are improving greatly. I don’t see how Etsy will be able to compete with that after awhile. And there are other handmade venues like Etsy without the heavy duty reseller aspect.

    It’s probably in the “nature of the beast” for an unjuried site who has to answer to venture capitalists to eventually morph into an E-Bay look-alike. No company the size of Etsy is going to be able to control the influx of resellers.

    So, I entreat etsy sellers to leave for greener pastures: perhaps Craft is Art, Artfire, Zibbet,
    or any other venue to your liking. You did it before when you all left E-Bay and you can do it again.

  11. ArtFireRocks

    Mr. Malik, the people who are speaking up are trying very hard to tell you the things that Etsy and Chad Dickerson don’t want the public to know. I don’t have a dog in this race, I left years ago, but the things I saw while I was still there that *caused me to leave* have only gotten worse. I never cared about resellers, I cared deeply about the people who were trying to “make a living making things” and it was galling to watch how badly they were treated.

    There is a wealth of information about Etsy’s dirty tricks out there, it doesn’t take much digging, and there is a very long history of it. The dirty deeds go back as far as I can remember, and so does the way they swept them under the rugs. Changing the guy at the top hasn’t changed anything for the better.

    Your blog post will probably help them either sell it or put up that IPO, but if you’re hoping to influence shoppers or sellers, you’re probably not going to get the results you wanted.

    If you really want to write about an internet based company that has worked hard to get where they are, one that hasn’t taken a boat load of other people’s money to do so, one that is responsive to their sellers, check into ArtFire as Kaliya suggested. As it stands, this article looks like cheer leading, a big personal pat on the back for Chad Dickerson and Etsy. Also, look into the history of the expression “Etsy cupcake” if they haven’t buried it too deeply.

    • Watching the Wheels


      You’ve GOT to be joking!

      THEY only worked by exploiting the malaise created by Etsy. After alienating the newly acquired Etsy sellers, they’ve sunk to “always a wannabe, never a contender”, like Bonanza.

  12. Mary Antoinette

    ” Some have argued in comments that Chad is not the man behind Etsy and the sellers are. I would like to remind sellers, that buyers are an equally important part of the marketplace. Without the marketplace, we all will remain unknown to each other.”


    Mr. Malik, I would like to address your comment above. Contrary to your statement, SELLERS *ARE* BUYERS. In truth, large amounts of the money etsy makes comes from the pockets of sellers that are BUYING. We buy gifts, we buy supplies for our craft, and we buy items for personal use. We know this site better than anyone else. We know what works, and we know what doesn’t work. Largely because we DO see both sides of the coin. I spend hundreds of dollars on supplies, items for my home, bath and body products, and even baked goods. Yet, I am also a successful seller making a good income.

    I was also muted (permanently banned from ever speaking in the forums again) for speaking out against mass produced J-Crew bubble necklaces and mass produced bags and purses. Not only do these items take up valuable space from the “real” sellers, but they really make the site look deceitful and disingenuous.

    And I would like to remind you, that without the sellers, who are Etsy’s REAL customers, there would be *nothing for buyers to buy*.

  13. RainbowGlitterUnicorn

    The reason why so many people are upset is the disconnect between what Etsy says and how they really operate.

    And they operate on commission: more volume = more money. You don’t get volume out of individual artisans slaving away in their home workshops, you get it from factories and “cooperatives” producing large quantities with cheap labor.

    It isn’t a “handmade” marketplace any more, it’s just a marketplace, no different than Amazon and eBay.

    Just stop with the hipster glitter unicorn cupcakes and admit you’re in it for the $$$, at least that would be the truth.

  14. I’m not an Etsy seller, so I have no perspective on all the angry seller comments. As a regular person and customer, I am deeply grateful that Etsy exists. Other than the external checkout (which was soooo clunky) and the general time sink of trawling the site (this is not transactional shopping), I have been a really happy customer. I don’t know Chad, but I think his assertion that there is an intrinsic value to dealing directly with a real person is spot-on.

    80% or more of my interactions with Etsy sellers have been warm and human. I continue to find inspiration and optimism on the site. And to discover wonderful vintage and handcraft. Maybe I have been lucky, but my searches haven’t been badly corrupted. I agree…resellers have no place on the site, but I just don’t run into them much. Anyway, the watchdog role of sellers is important so I am not discounting that, but I just wanted to share the other side of the experience.

    • Dont mute me bro

      Thank you for speaking up on behalf of the buyers. We sellers work hard at keeping our customers experience warm and human only to be undermined by etsy’s dehumanizing policy changes.

  15. Discusted

    What is Etsy? It is suppose to be a venue for selling handmade, vintage and supplies. Instead it is a place that has lots of resellers.

    Etsy is also a venue that does not listen to their customers- their sellers. They don’t have a phone to call if there is a problem.

    Etsy is known for muting sellers in the forums and also for closing shops that should not have been closed.

    The reputation of Etsy is going downhill and that is a shame. If this keeps up then pretty soon it will affect all Etsy sellers and when that happens it won’t be pretty because many sellers depend on the income that they receive from Etsy since that is their only income.

  16. Watching the Wheels

    For anyone praising Chad to the heavens, …

    What has ALWAYS confused me no end is just how many half baked glitch ridden, poorly executed things got rolled out during his tenure as CTO.

    :) Do some forum searches for 2009.

    There was the meta tags debacle.
    The time when there was time gapping occurring if edits were performed that created the potential for a customer to perceive bait and switch pricing tactics

    The lists go on and on.

    Chad, is Caterina’s lap dog. He does OBEY.

      • SilverLining

        Of course it’s personal. Chad has spent a great deal of time fiddling with our livelihoods and disassembling a community of artists and artisans that we have come to know and love. Many of us have helped to build Etsy from the ground up and enjoyed the support of our fellow artists in a way that we never could before. We were able to reach buyers who appreciated the value of a product that had been lovingly made by a very real human being. We could reach those buyers on a global scale. Rob Kalin’s original vision wasn’t perfect, but it was human and it was honest. In just a few short years, Chad has managed to replace all of that with mass produced goods masquerading as handmade and a corporate culture of disrespect and intimidation. Of course it’s personal.

      • Obscure Claire

        Of course there is rancor. Of course people take it personally. We are the ones who have lead people to our shops – to etsy – we have done the footwork and the handiwork and now etsy is walking all over us and hurting our sales. And endorsing articles like the one you wrote. Betrayals and dishonestly lead to rancor. The rancor coming off of these posts should indicate just how unhealthy that heaven you wrote about really is. Today a Paypal issue that is important to many sellers and impacts all sellers was addressed in forums by admin. Admin Melinda addressed this issue by being dishonest about the motive and intent behind hiding the Paypal option (does anybody really think it was to help the buyer – does anybody thing there is any reason other than Etsy is toying with making their own DC the only checkout option?) and insulting our intelligence. This sort of thing leads to rancor and distrust. The muting that happens at Etsy was sure to lead to something like this. How did leadership not see that? If you ignore the problem, it grows. Those skeletons in the closet eventually fall out. How could leadership think that making all of these changes during the slowest sales month for Etsy be a good thing – with many sellers already stressed out due to lack of sales. (Go through the forums. Look at open statistics. August is the slowest month for sales at Etsy.) Mr. Malik, this is an uncomfortable situation for sure – I believe that you got in touch with Chad Dickerson and I believe he was kind enough to provide you with an interview and the “puffing” might have been provided by you based on what you see on the outside – but regardless of who you end up supporting, word has gotten out and I thank you.

        • aloyisius


          Please do not take our “rancor” personally Mr. Malik. I believe that most of us here are grateful for the opportunity to speak out and tell the world what is truly happening with Etsy. I thank you for that.

          Please DO pay attention and write another article telling the world the TRUTH about what Etsy really has become and what kind of conniving, self-serving, deceitful, pompous and cruel men Chad Dickerson and Marc Hedlund REALLY are.

      • Watching the Wheels


        I don’t think so. If histories are looked into, the Frakes left Yahoo during some sort of mass exodus in 2008 -2009. with Chad close upon their heels. I believe the gentile definition is called “networking”.

        When Chad first came to Etsy, I was unable to find any factual or stats laden recommendations concerning REAL qualifications that he might have towards doing this type of work. The commentary that I located tended to say, “He’s a nice guy.”

        It’s been my experience that “NICE” doesn’t necessarily equate to effective.

        When you get down to brass tacks Chad is an employee, with an employee mindset. He is NOT a Jeff Bezos or a Steve Jobs, both of whom seem to garner an almost God-like adoration from many quarters.

        As I stated some of the most poorly executed site ?improvements? occurred while Chad was CTO. How does this merit promotion to CEO?

        A body was needed to fill Kalin’s slot after Kalin saw fit to toy with knives during an interview.

        From what I discovered while researching the “powers that be”, there does seem to be a certain level of inbreeding within the realm of cyberland. I work on the assumption that that people wind up knowing each other when working within a given industry.

        IF the sellers truly want to discuss change within Etsy, they NEED to approach the REAL decision makers, which is the BOARD. These people, along with the sellers are the risk takers within Etsy. NOT the site’s paid employees, of which Chad is one of them.

  17. Om, I know a lot of sellers who have had shops closed or have been perma-muted in the forums. Some of them come over to Artfire another venue like Etsy smaller true but then they didn’t sell out to the VC’s. I ‘m sure they would be happy to speak to you.

    You mentioned you were interested in Etsy’s growth the past years, and in your article you mention how they have gotten 91 mil from VC’s , not surprising its grown, LOL.

    Stats, you asked about them, if we could deliver the true stats of how many shops are owned by the same people , even resellers , and how many have nothing in them or like me I just keep a small presence on E 5 items, and the rest I list elsewhere. It sure would change the picture.

    The fact is this Etsy provided a platform , the sellers did all the promotion, and the VC money has helped Etsy a lot.

    All in all your article is pure fluff, how about getting down to the truth of things?

    • Kaliya

      Just as you are calling my article puff, I can call your comments and lack of stats as a rant. But I won’t – just pointing out if you are going to go throwing mud, you lose your impact.

      • I called it fluff Om, not puff, a fluff piece as a journalist would know is just that a bunch of fluff. An article stroking somebody or something to be pretty when in reality its not.

        Throwing mud LOL, how about asking me about sellers that have had shops closed for no unkown reason and no response from E??? I told you I know plenty of them.

        But your not interested in that side of things are you? You know the dark side of E? That would sell as well, unless you have some vested interest with Dickerson.

        YOu also questioned somebody here about sweat shops and resellers, are you so naïve?

        I can see your of Indian origin , I live in Delhi, though I’m an American , you want to know about sweat shops? Come to India I will show you plenty of them.

    • This is where I was going. Mr. Malik, rather than speak with Mr. Dickerson, why not reach out to their investors, Index Ventures and a few others. Ask them if it sits well with them that several small businesses that were on the rise have taken a back seat to resellers and nepotism.

      It is clear as day that the admin that we as sellers see in the forums are low on the totem pole. When a total disregard of personal privacy is breached, as mentioned above, and the admin on duty address this with, “we’re looking into it,” there is a reason to be upset as both buyer and seller.

      I am sure the investors are happy to make money, we all are, but at the cost and the integrity of what Etsy says it is could potentially put a black mark on them for taking part as investors.

      I think it is quite obvious the direction Etsy is heading, take a look, here This is why the resellers and lack of customer support and true admin are not hired, Mr. Dickerson needed to pay back his investors, and we, the small guys pay the price. There are new investors, and consequently, Mr. Dickerson and Etsy as a whole needs to show their investors they are doing something, so they create a system where there is no longer choice for the buyer as to how they pay, they change the listing pages which is cosmetic, and they change the feedback, but they do not address the people who’s businesses he and Etsy are destroying.

      I think someone outside of Mr. Dickerson needs to be asked the hard questions, for the very reasons given above (well trained seals with boiler plate cut and paste answers).

      • Obscure Claire

        I agree and have thought the investors need to know about this fiasco – is it possible by now that they don’t? Is it possible they haven’t seen his response here and cringed? I wonder if it is the investors that have given the okay to Dickerson’s actions.

  18. Dont Mute Me Bro.

    “I would like to remind sellers, that buyers are an equally important part of the marketplace. Without the marketplace, we all will remain unknown to each other. ”

    The marketplace was built on the word of mouth advertising from the artists. We directed our friends, family, and existing customers to etsy. We put the bumper stickers on our cars and wore the t-shirts. We promoted the site online and at parties. We encouraged every one we knew to open an etsy store.
    Etsy did no advertising to bring in the customers.

    • Thank you Obscure Claire. I was coming back to this comment section to post the same thing about DC and PayPal. I’d love to hear their cut and paste comments on this!

  19. Bradford

    If Chad could see the conditions in the factories, that the workers have to deal with, to make the products the resellers offer on his site, he would vomit! Yea, lets hear a big cheer for Chad!

  20. Hello Everyone

    First of all, apologies for not responding sooner. I took the weekend off — left the machines behind and essentially decided it was a good time for me to relax. Oops! So there are a lot of comments here and many of them have a similar tenor: dissatisfaction with the company for

    1. Ruining/Not Caring about the authenticity of the Etsy experience by being ambivalent about the presence on resellers and mass-production vendors posing as “crafts”/artisans.
    2. Not being super communicative and often turning dead ear to the complaints of some of the sellers.
    3. Chad/Management don’t really care and treat seller like trash.

    As for your comments, I have reached out to the company management including Chad and have asked him the relevant questions and will provide you with an answer soon enough. I might actually end up writing a separate post.

    From my standpoint, Chad hasn’t sought any publicity and infact I reached out to him after seeing the company grow in past two years. The company was going through some serious convulsions a few years ago and Dickerson was put in place by the board to make sure the whole enterprise didn’t fall apart. The company was in particularly tough spot and since then the management including Dickerson has done a good job of stabilizing the marketplace.

    The fact that company has more members – 20 million more than when he took over means that sellers – authentic and the factory/resellers have a bigger addressable market. While I won’t condone any bad behavior by Etsy, but still, a bigger addressable market can’t necessarily be a bad thing. Some have argued in comments that Chad is not the man behind Etsy and the sellers are. I would like to remind sellers, that buyers are an equally important part of the marketplace. Without the marketplace, we all will remain unknown to each other.

    I have bought goods from Etsy over the years, though not as many as I should. A few bags, a belt and a couple of wallets plus some covers for iPad and Kindles. In each case, I found the seller to be authentic and like all artisanal products, welcomed the imperfections of the goods. It is solely the reason why I find Etsy attractive. In other words, I have been a satisfied customer. And yes, if the experience is less than authentic, I would (and rightfully should be) angry with Chad and his team. Obviously the dissatisfaction and rest of the issues are important for the health of community, and rest assured I will be grilling the team tomorrow morning.

    But before I sign off, I would like to say — thank you for bringing up tough issues for the company — one we all obviously care about the platform enough that we get so passionate, angry and despondent at the same time.

    • carolbabs

      Mr. Malik, as I mentioned earlier in a comment, I am a buyer-only on Etsy. I have also been a satisfied customer of Etsy, but it is becoming increasingly harder to find the authentic handmade and the real vintage that I want to purchase.

      Why are you reaching out to Etsy management for answers to these tough questions? I would guess that many of the commentators here have already done so. Etsy is very good at giving cut and paste non-answers, ignoring and not answering convoes from customers (buyers and sellers) that they don’t want to answer, and permanently muting both buyers and sellers from speaking or asking any questions in the forums.

      You reached out to Chad, and the entire article is filled with half-truths and lies. Why do you think speaking to management is going to be different or that you are going to get the truth when they won’t speak the truth to their customers?

      You can do the research yourself. Go into the forums, especially past ones when there weren’t as many muted buyers and sellers, and read how buyers and sellers feel about Etsy and its policies. Talk to buyers and sellers. Shop on Etsy with an open mind. Search for handmade items and really take a look at the shops purporting to make handmade. There are plenty of knowledgeable people on Etsy that would assist you, but couldn’t do it openly because Etsy retaliates against those that speak out.

      Finally, if Etsy would only be honest about what they are doing and where they are going, there wouldn’t be as much dissatisfaction as there is. If resellers are allowed on the site, both buyers and sellers should be aware of this, and the resellers should not be falsely advertising their merchandise as handmade. Buyers and sellers would not be looking to Etsy as the handmade site it was originally intended to be, could be more savvy buyers and sellers, and could make the determination as to whether they wanted to continue to be affiliated with Etsy.

        • carolbabs

          Yes, Barry, I was muted. Thanks for your endorsement. It hurts to see a great concept going down the tubes, and articles such as this one praising one of the people that is helping to sink the ship.

          • bleu3000

            So…Etsy suppresses the speech/opinions of both Sellers and Buyers. Alienating a Buyer/Consumer shows an extreme lack of business acumen. I think that’s my biggest gripe with Etsy – they seem to have no real knowledge of business. I have continually been flabbergasted by the uneducated responses given by all levels of Etsy Admin in the forums. Half of the responses given in the weekly Friday questions thread don’t make any sense at all (and I have a MBA from an AACSB International accredited institution).

            Yes, the company has grown by leaps and bounds; but it’s due to the strength and the fortitude of the sellers who work tirelessly to advertise outside of Etsy to bring in buyers. This is the fact that is being glossed over.

    • FormerEtsyShopper

      Etsy and Chad will only tell you what they want you to print. Why not reach out to the sellers – Etsy’s customers – who have been affected instead? Talk about the things Etsy doesn’t want advertised, like their ‘collectives’ ( that get front-page slots and official support while sellers of actual handmade goods are thrown off the site because Etsy deems their work too professional to be handmade (

      Ask them why experiments are allowed to run live, affecting their customers’ businesses ( without so much as a single official comment until sellers begin to wonder why their buyers are having problems and they are losing sales. There’s a culture of disrespect for their customers over at Etsy, but like the bubble necklaces and ‘handmade’ Bali boatwood furniture, everyone is expected to shut up and look the other way as long as they keep making money.

  21. Foggy Transparency

    Yes, Om. You’ve been hustled. You’re reporting failed to “understand the meaning of his carefully chosen words”. Go to the forums and find out how the members really get dick(ed) around.
    As a shop keeper on etsy, the last thing that Chad Dickerson believes is etsy is a “platform that provides meaning to people, and an opportunity to validate their art, their craft”. I feel violated, not validated.
    The customers of etsy, buyers and sellers, do all the work for Chad, his pet hacker group and his admin. Mr. Dickerson is no cyber superhero to us.

  22. I read all of the comments here with great interest. I am one of those who has been muted for speaking up to admin. The new Forum rules for Etsy clearly state that you may not publicly criticize the company or forum moderators. Many folks that I know, personally, through teams have been permanently muted for speaking up. If you look at browse, go to jewelry and take a look at the pages of the same stock photos of plastic necklaces from mass marketers. They bury the unique, one of a kind jewelry. It’s so discouraging. And heaven help you if you complain about it publicly or mention the rampant trademark violations. You get swiftly silenced. It’s an ugly sight.

    • I have been muted too and I am a buyer only. I think it is disgusting how etsy treats the buyers never mind the sellers who are treated like they don’t count at all. Imagine silencing a customer! I think the etsy ethos is long gone and is like a tea strainer – full of holes. There is no integrity with the powers that be. The sellers though are a different story, they are great. I hope they all move to a different home though.

  23. notareseller

    Mary, hun, no amount of selling SEO tips and tricks and tidbits will mean diddly if etsy continues on this path. The handmade/vintage market will simply leave if the resellers continue to list and stay at the rapid rate they are going. Shops, gone…SEO packet sales, plumet…you’ll be left selling them to resellers, and from the looks of it, they rank higher up on their category pages, than you do in yours.

    It’s nice that you defend etsy. but you don’t have a dog in the fight as far as knowing what these commenters are saying as far as “resellers” go. you don’t compete with them.

  24. Obscure Claire

    Finally: “Meet the man behind New York’s other billion dollar internet company. This one makes money” – If the other billion dollar internet company is referring to the one I think it is – take a closer look at the other company and how its artisans feel about it. That company knows who makes the product it sells, works with and listens to the artisans who makes the product it sells and has given a leg up to many many artisans. There are no factory made by stranger products there. There are products of artisans who are proud of their work. They are the supporters of those artisans, in every way. They have customer service and guarantees for people who buy those products as well as their artisans. They are who Chad and Marc and whoever else pretends to be.

  25. Obscure Claire

    Mary Walilko and her comments are indicative of what is happening at etsy right now. Please note that she is one of the few commenters who are not afraid to reveal their true identities. That is because if you disagree with etsy, you will eventually be muted and have your shop closed. If you agree with etsy, you will have your own team and gain straw boss notoriety. What is interesting and worth noting is that etsy forums allow people like Mary to be rude and unconstructive to other people, as long as she kisses etsy’s hiney, but they will not allow other people to criticize them (etsy) without risking having their shops shut down or being muted in the forums. If I were a big business, I would get rid of Mary before I got rid of the complainers. I would keep the complainers (they are all complaining about the same things) to gauge what needs to be addressed – and because if I don’t address them – they will find somebody who will. I would get rid of Mary because she is being disrespectful to my customers. Yes, most people on forums, even the moaners and groaners, are etsy customers. And I don’t think there would be this many upset people if etsy was honest about what they are doing. It’s okay to be a cutthroat business if that is what you are. Don’t candy coat it with all of this BS about helping the artisans and being special and unique.

  26. DisenchantedBuyer

    The site should be called FLEAtsy…all it is is a giant flea market!
    It’s really sad…it started with an amazing concept that has been so bastardized that it is unrecognizable.
    Chad Dickerson and his minions in etsy administration nothing but contempt for the sellers.
    I’m only a buyer there, but I am so over it.