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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.

etsy

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.


ChadDickerson20131-2

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.

Etsy

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. nope...

    so all of these people who are commenting and basically saying the same thing over and over are all wrong? Do you think we are all part of some club that meets at the local coffee shop and decided to write these comments? There is a big problem and while I can not speculate as to why it can not be addressed, the rational thought is, there is no incentive to fix the problems. Collectives (resellers), list at a low rate and pay commission same as the craft person…and if they list a 1000 items a night, vs the one or two that the home artisian may list, its all revenue going into the coffer.

    You can and probably will mute me, as a lot of my friends, (far more than the 178 you quoted) but that’s fine…I tried my best, gave good customer service, sold a few things and had some fun.

  2. larissaesq

    Mr. Malik,

    As I believe everyone else has addressed the primary points very well, I’d like to point out an aside or two.

    For someone who’s apparently a former senior editor and who purports to be a 20-year journalist, you’ve got no standing to attack others for their comments when you:

    Started at least three sentences with the word “and”
    Incorrectly wrote “hasn’t hid” instead of “hasn’t hidden”
    Incorrectly wrote, “He is unlikely to be every confused…” and “…for a ‘internet CEO poster child.’”
    Forgot three articles: “a” once and “the” twice.
    Forgot the word “as”
    Misspelled “Sriracha”
    Incorrectly wrote, “Upon leaving from college, …”
    Used an excess comma

    I wouldn’t normally comment about such things, except that you seem so keen on the accuracy of others.

    In addition, I find it quite disingenuous for you to insist that commenters provide statistics and research to back up their fairly common knowledge comments, when you well know, if you truly are a journalist, that your status as one affords you much greater access to that sort of information than is afforded to the average person. Indeed, it is probably from journalists that the commenters learned that information. I note that you respond only to commenters that made such statements, and none of those who spoke regarding their own personal experiences or those of their friends and acquaintances.

    From where I sit, journalists should be less defensive. They shouldn’t try to veer off on tangents rather than engaging in meritorious debate. The shouldn’t try to attack those who question them. To engage in any of those tactics is pretty damned unprofessional.

  3. RainbowGlitterUnicorn

    Too late to shut the barn door on the reseller issue, that horse escaped during “Baligate,” where Etsy simply turned a reseller into a “co-op” and told us to leave them alone and shut up about it. The proof was available for all to see when invoices for the purchased furniture were published on Regretsy and we’ve been disillusioned about Etsy’s sincerity ever since.

    Of course this issue can’t even be discussed in the Etsy forums, as you can see by Mr Dickerson’s post, Etsy considers this akin to hate speech and their forums are heavily censored.

    As for “flagging” that is just a joke. After seeing shops selling manufactured items still in business weeks and even months after being flagged, we just give up, it’s a waste of time.

  4. Discusted

    Mr. Dickerson,

    Muting 178 people who you claim violated the Etsy forum policies over the past two years is probably 170 too many.

    Restore the forums to the way that they use to be three years ago.

    Until you stop muting sellers in the forums, start providing better customer service, stop allowing resellers to sell on Etsy and return Etsy to the way that it was intended from the beginning, a place to sell handmade, vintage and supplies, you will have an ever growing number of dissatisfied sellers. That will not be good for the Etsy bottom line.

    You are taking Etsy down the wrong path and unless you get Etsy back on the correct path there will come a day when Etsy will no longer be the number one selling venue for handmade, vintage and supplies.

    You need a new vision of where you want to take Etsy. You do not care one bit about Etsy sellers. That is a shame because Etsy sellers are your customers. If you take care of your customers then your customers will take care of you.

  5. HappilyleftEtsy

    I recall something about a call center being in the works in upstate New York but as usual nothing came of it. As long a Etsy’s customers put up with the lack of reasonable customer service they won’t be accountable. Those who complain for years with a lack of response have more patience than I. Lots of luck.

  6. Douglas G Erwin

    Chad,
    Yesterday I posted an Open Letter to Chad Dickerson in the Etsy forums.

    Generically it was about Etsy’s unresponsiveness to seller concerns. Specifically it was about the poorly thought out secret experiment over the weekend to limit buyers’ choices at checkout, effectively hiding PayPal and making your proprietary credit card processing as the only choice. Many confused customers who went elsewhere to shop. When we found out about it Saturday night, I posted it in Bugs asking if it was a bug or a test. 18, yes eighteen, hours later an admin responded by saying he could see nothing wrong. Several of us spent a considerable amount of time detailing what was going on. Several hours later, the admin came back and said it was an experiment and the effects would be small. Maybe small to Etsy, big to sellers who lost sales.

    I asked you to explain why someone would think such a potentially disruptive experiment should be conducted on a weekend, with no one monitoring the results or a technician on hand to fix problems.

    Feel free to answer these questions either here or on Etsy. Concerned customers want to know.

  7. HappilyleftEtsy

    quote:

    You are not in any way an independent business nor do they care about you, your input, or your financial status. As long as you are there listing and paying your Etsy bill, fine. This will not change, those of you who are hoping it will, are not being realistic.
    What shop owners have to do is decide if they want to be used in that fashion.
    There are always alternatives.

    unquote

    This ^^^^ That is the decision I made when I moved from Etsy. I feel it was the wisest decision I ever made for the growth and stability of my business. Anyone who is so unhappy at Etsy, I ask, Why stay? Kind of like staying with an abusive partner because he pays the bills. Be strong, move on and speak with your dollars. There are other venues.

    Mr Dickerson, why do you never address the concerns about phone support? With 450 employees, millions of buyers and sellers, direct checkout etc. certainly there are funds for telephone support. The staff asks your customers to use twitter to contact customer service, really, twitter? The sad part is they often respond to twitter contact but ignore repeated emails from people having problems.

    • bleu3000

      “Mr Dickerson, why do you never address the concerns about phone support?”

      There was actually post in the forums by Chad many, many moths ago where he claimed that a phone was in the works. Several hours after reading the post, I went back to it, and it had been heavily edited to exclude a lot of detail; including the phone comment.

  8. I have been checking back and reading the comments here periodically.
    Now that Mr. Dickerson has posted his rebuttal, it’s time to comment.
    Let’s analyze it one ting from his post.
    We all know that people can manipulate figures say what they want and also word sentences to mislead.
    This is a quote from Mr. Dickerson, “On Etsy, selling a new, finished item unchanged when you didn’t design it is not allowed. In order to police for this, we have a dedicated staff (grown more than 450% in the last 3 years, and still hiring),…..”
    When you read that, it implies that Etsy has increased their staff to take care of the reseller issue, by 450%.
    Wow! Impressive!
    However, I can do math, and used to teach it.
    If you have 1 employee and you increase you staff by 450%, that means you now have 450 employees.
    If you go to the Careers section on Etsy, they say they have 400 employees and growing?
    https://www.etsy.com/careers/?ref=ft_careers
    Look on the right under Employees
    That’s total employees world wide, not just those handling the reseller issue.
    Did Etsy have only one employee 3 years ago?
    So if this is wrong, then I will assume all of Mr. Dickerson’s other figures are misleading, too, along with anything else he says.
    I know for a fact that most of the rest of what he painted in rainbows and fairy dust is not completely accurate.
    The shop owners on Etsy are treated with disrespect and considered disposable.
    It has been stated, I believe on one of Marc’s weekly threads, that there are more shops coming in than leaving. They think they are too big to fail, and that may be so. They also have you scared that there is not other place to go, and that might be true for some shops.
    But the end product that may survive, that is Etsy, will be totally different.
    Like many other big corporations, Etsy has and will continue to build itself on the backs of small people scraping for a living. They have along range business plan and a PR department that spews the party line. They are not bumbling around, and they don’t care about the shop owners. You are an expendable commodity, commonly called cannon fodder. You are not in any way an independent business nor do they care about you, your input, or your financial status. As long as you are there listing and paying your Etsy bill, fine. This will not change, those of you who are hoping it will, are not being realistic.
    What shop owners have to do is decide if they want to be used in that fashion.
    There are always alternatives.

    • CleverName

      Holly,

      The one part of your post with which I disagree is this one:

      “If you have 1 employee and you increase you staff by 450%, that means you now have 450 employees.”

      If you have 1 employee and increase the staff by 450%, you added 4.5 employees, for a total of 5.5 employees. I leave the question of how to add half an employee for other folks to answer.

    • Negative Nancy

      Holly, you are awesome. Keep up the intelligent detective work. Chad can only blow smoke up people’s butts for so long. Thanks for calling him out on that outright LIE.

    • NotACupcake

      I agree with Holly… By the way they are promoting with those free listings for every referred friend that opens a shop, and even on the header at the op of the home page if you are not signed in. They want more sellers, because the ones they have have too strong of an opinion.

    • still at etsy maybe not for long

      I am so sorry that you are teaching math, Holly.

      If I have one employee and I hire a second, I have increased my staff by 100%.

      If I have one employee and I hire two more, I have increased my staff by 200%.

      My daughter is a teacher, and it pains me to no end to see someone dash in with statements like the ones Holly made and say that they teach the subject when they demostrate such a poor understanding.

  9. Thank you to Om for inviting me to respond to the comments here. I know that sellers depend on Etsy for their livelihoods. So it’s fair — and welcome — for you to be passionate, to tell us when you disagree with our decisions, and to make suggestions for improvements. But Om is right that baseless assertions and hateful rants are unproductive, so I’m going to try to be very concrete in my response. 

    On Etsy, selling a new, finished item unchanged when you didn’t design it is not allowed. In order to police for this, we have a dedicated staff (grown more than 450% in the last 3 years, and still hiring), proprietary software which we continue to improve, and we also encourage our community to flag shops or listings for concerns. Of our 18 million listings and more than 900,000 sellers, only a fraction of one percent in total were flagged last year. To be more specific, in July 2013, 0.15% of listings were flagged as possible violators, and this has been consistent over time. It’s still a problem and if you look you can find violators, but it’s a small problem relative to the size of the marketplace. We’re considering ways to surface this data more regularly. All open marketplaces and online services have some version of our “reseller” challenge. It’s why you see spam buttons in your email inbox, and why you can report a post on Facebook. We are in no way ambivalent about it or blind to those trying to game the system.

    The word “reseller,” however, has become a stand-in for any reason a member of the Etsy community disapproves of another member or behavior (such as products that are deemed too cheap, photos that are too professional, shops with too many sales, having help in your shop, etc.). It’s not uncommon for a community to develop a vocabulary to stand for everything that offends or upsets them, but when the word is used (incorrectly) as a pretext for interfering with others’ businesses, harassing each other, or promoting hatred, it goes against the spirit of Etsy.

    I know from personal experience that the Etsy community as a whole is warm, welcoming and inspiring, not represented by hostility. Contrary to what some commenters have suggested, in the last two years we’ve only muted 178 people for violating our forums policies. During my tenure as CEO, we put formal mechanisms in place that survey, measure, and monitor Etsy member satisfaction across the entire community so we know that our customers are generally happy (though we’re not complacent about it — that’s why we measure it). We have a regular program where we provide tours of Etsy to critics and fans alike who want to stop by our offices. If you want to stop by for a tour and discuss how we’re doing in person, just email [email protected]. 

    • CleverName

      Chad Dickerson said:
      “The word “reseller,” however, has become a stand-in for any reason a member of the Etsy community disapproves of another member or behavior (such as products that are deemed too cheap, photos that are too professional, shops with too many sales, having help in your shop, etc.). It’s not uncommon for a community to develop a vocabulary to stand for everything that offends or upsets them, but when the word is used (incorrectly) as a pretext for interfering with others’ businesses, harassing each other, or promoting hatred, it goes against the spirit of Etsy.”

      I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but I have never seen “reseller” used in any other context other than “one who buys cheap, factory-made goods and resells them as ‘handmade’ or ‘vintage'”. It isn’t exactly an accurate term – technically, anyone who sells vintage is a “reseller” (by the general definition, not the Etsy definition that I outlined above) – but it works as short-hand.

      Take a look through the “handmade” jewelry category, Mr. Dickerson. Or the “vintage” watches and handbags. You will find dozens of the same design, allegedly all handmade by the same seller or allegedly all vintage (though they’re brand new). How do dozens of shops all find hundreds of the same exact style of “vintage” wristwatch, Mr. Dickerson? Doesn’t allowing these knock-offs and these resellers as “collectives” interfere with the spirit of Etsy?

    • bleu3000

      In one breath, you say: “we also encourage our community to flag shops or listings for concerns”. (Everyone involved with Etsy knows that the main two reasons for flagging a shop are for copyright or reseller concerns.)

      Then you follow that with: “The word “reseller,” however, has become a stand-in for any reason a member of the Etsy community disapproves of another member or behavior (such as products that are deemed too cheap, photos that are too professional, shops with too many sales, having help in your shop, etc.). It’s not uncommon for a community to develop a vocabulary to stand for everything that offends or upsets them, but when the word is used (incorrectly) as a pretext for interfering with others’ businesses, harassing each other, or promoting hatred, it goes against the spirit of Etsy.”

      Do you legitimately want other sellers to report resellers, or do you consider it to be “a pretext for interfering with others’ businesses, harassing each other, or promoting hatred, it goes against the spirit of Etsy.”

      Personally, I think you should police the site yourself (yourself being Etsy staff). Sellers should not carry the burden of keeping your policies in check. Especially when they are berated by the CEO of the company for doing as asked.

      Chad, if you don’t mind my asking, what exactly is your business background? Do you have a business degree, or have you worked in a corporate position other than IT related prior to Etsy? I guess what I’m getting at is this: I think you are a wonderful, intelligent human being, but, I fear, a victim of the Peter Principle.

    • Wolf SilverOak

      You know the reason why such a small percentage of listings are flagged anymore? Because we the sellers are doing your jobs for you and we the sellers are fed up, so we stop the useless flagging.

      You claim that premade items, ie mass produced, are not allowed, then go so far as to attempt to convince us that those J. Crew bubble necklace knockoffs are handmade when you know darn well they are not. And that’s just the bubble necklaces! What about the knockoff pave cuffs, earrings and necklaces? You know darn well that there are resellers and you are blatantly not doing anything about it, other than to start calling them ‘collectives’.

      Instead, you feature them, like you did the boat furniture reseller, Ecologica Malibu. Instead you post asinine articles in the STorque, by people who don’t even sell on Etsy, extoling OUR BUYERS to not buy anything made from coral, faux, legitimate, vintage or otherwise. You blatantly feature articles and people/shops that hurt your legit handmade, supply and vintage sellers and then try to cover it up.

      Instead of removing resellers, you target legit sellers, such as the one earlier who made those wood boxes for electronics. He provided all sorts of proof that he was handmaking his items and you STILL shut him down. The term reseller has NOT become a catch all as you seem to think. We legit sellers know exactly what it means and honestly, many of us have given up on you in regards to them.

      178 people muted in the last two years? More like in the last 8 MONTHS. And that’s just the ones who go to a specific Team and tell us that they have been muted. And when you do mute people, you mute them for things like saying ‘Cheese’ in a thread designed for fun. For things like ‘Yippee, Diane!’ that was a legitimate response to someone else, but Admin saw as snark without reading further. You mute for pointing out the flaws, no matter how tactful or politely it was done. There are threads and comments and posts everywhere that detail why people were muted and some of them are for the most innoculous things. You mute to keep the public face all happy and shiny. You mute to hide your flaws. And you know it.

      What’s the real reason behind blocking PayPal this last weekend? You can’t simply claim its because you were testing an overlay when obviously, Direct Checkout worked fine. You know it was deliberate, you just can’t admit it because you’ll get the kind of backlash you are getting now about the asinine feedback system changes, if not worse.

      Why don’t you have a telephone number users can call with problems like other legitimate selling sites do? There is absolutely no reason why after 8+ years, you cannot have a working customer service number. Yet, you still have failed to provide anyone wth a satisfactory answer as to why you refuse to have one. Instead relaying on emails and convos, days, sometimes weeks later , or not at all.

      If you really do have measures in place that survery, test and monitor user statisfaction, then you are blatantly ignoring the alarm bells that have got to be ringing madly right now. You are being complacent. You can tell that by a simple perusal of the gutted forums to
      know that your user base is NOT happy. Not even generally.

      Call this a rant if you want. I don’t. I call it a discourse on exactly how wrong and blind you are being to what’s truly happening right in front of you. I call it a wake up and take off the rosecolored glasses you are wearing before you run the site even further into the ground and all that’s left IS the mass produced items and resellers.

      And hey, look, my name is even on this, as it is on all my comments. I’ll expect the retaliation against my shop any time now.

    • “The word “reseller,” however, has become a stand-in for any reason a member of the Etsy community disapproves of another member or behavior (such as products that are deemed too cheap, photos that are too professional, shops with too many sales, having help in your shop, etc.). It’s not uncommon for a community to develop a vocabulary to stand for everything that offends or upsets them, but when the word is used (incorrectly) as a pretext for interfering with others’ businesses, harassing each other, or promoting hatred, it goes against the spirit of Etsy.”

      So you’re saying there’s no problem with resellers, and we just made it up because we’re Mean Girls, so don’t worry our pretty little heads?

      You are the reason Etsy is dying, Chad. You and everyone else gaslighting about the real issues and mansplaining the issues.

      Thanks for being just as sexist and classist as you were at Yahoo!

    • “Gaslighting” is exactly the word for this response. Utterly ridiculous. Jaw-dropping in its wrong-headedness, actually. Chad, are you getting this yet? Etsy has an image problem with the people who make it money. It goes far deeper than that, of course, but let’s try starting there. Your first mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stop talking down to your sellers and minimizing every concern they express; stop insulting your sellers by pretending they won’t notice that that’s what you’re doing. Many of us are a clever bunch and we have your number. Well, not literally, of course. No one has that.

    • still at etsy maybe not for long

      Chad, on the whole, I have been very happy with the Etsy platform and the changes have mostly been well thought out and actually WORK when released, as opposed to the ebay approach of testing changes on the live customer base.

      However, the changes and tests or glitches that have appeared this week are troublesome. The feedback system was working well. I had nearly five years of hard earned 100% positive feedback that has suddenly been cut to just the past 12 months, and as “reviews”. I for the most part make items one at a time, often with a unique stone such that there will never ever be another item like that one. I fail to see how a “review” of my awesome OOAK item will ever be meaningful. Further, I came from ebay where the “opinion” that no one is perfect, therefore no rating of 5 will be given, has taken more than a few sellers into a death spiral.

      I loved being able to post a picture of a finished item using supplies I bought from another shop, and I loved seeing a customer showing off one of my creations. This was a unique thing about the Etsy feedback that I miss already – the thank you pics!

      The idea of doing away with PayPal is just stupid. I get paid via PayPal, and I turn around and I pay for postage from PayPal, and I shop on Etsy with the money in my PayPal account, and I pay my Etsy bill from my PayPal account. Last time I looked, all I can do with the funds in my Etsy seller account is put them in my checking account. I can’t spend them on Etsy!!! I may not be a big fan of PayPal, but they have a brand name that is trusted by millions across the globe and I will have to reconsider staying on as a seller if I lose the ability to use directly from your checkout. This only brings up the temptation to take a listing off Etsy and bill a customer directly from PayPal when there is a problem with your site accepting PP. I have a customer who used PP last week and today it is not an option for her. Guess what I did? You lost that 3.5% fee. I am not going to make my customers jump through hoops to make a purchase.

      And one more thing – just look at the search results for this string on Etsy. Over 17000 listings meet this criteria. I do not have a problem if someone buys these components and combines them in a unique form with their own hands and then sells them, even if all that is done is to add a jump ring and cut some chain to length. What bothers me is the sheer number of identical listing pictures, and some sellers have had the nerve to add their shop names to the picture as if this makes it unique! Perhaps to some kind of a program searching the site they would appear different, but you sit down and use your home boy NC eyeballs and tell me that this is not blatant buy-sell on this item. I have no idea what a bubble necklace is, but I suspect that there are at least 17000 “unique listings” of them as well.

      Do us sellers, your customers, a favor and look at this tomorrow and get back with a comment on it. When I look, on the first page I see one listed at 4.99 and two at 17.00, and they appear to be absolutely identical items. This is reselling. They didn’t even move the chain over a notch.

      https://www.etsy.com/search?q=silver%20bird%20necklace&view_type=gallery&ship_to=US

    • Beth McCormack

      Instead of dismissing us as petty and jealous losers, maybe you should actually listen to what the majority of us are saying. That’s your job, isn’t it?

    • Seller on Etsy

      Mr. Dickerson, maybe you would like to reply to why Etsy uses there sellers as lab rats with out there permission. I have asked to be removed from a number of test and was completely ignored. Wrote five letters to five different administrators and they did not even have the decency to reply back.
      Why not tell Mr. Om Malik how Etsy it goes behind sellers backs and blocks Papal excess from buyers with out letting sellers know.

      There has been a thread open since June on how many long time sellers who have had success with sales and are now experiencing total demise and not one word from Etsy. How about answering those sellers Mr. Dickerson. 1421 Posts later and not one word from Etsy. Many shops are dying for no apparent reason after all this testing and deploying of code, not to mention changes. Good shops with good sellers with many sales. Now all our hard work for the last few years is down the toilet Mr. Dickerson. Do you even care?

      One women who used her money to pay for here Cancer treatments had to stop getting her treatments because your team has trashed so many sellers stores. She had to make the decision of either putting food on the table or her treatments. It broke my heart.

      I don’t believe you have a clue to what human toll your changes have made to many of us here. You have no idea what you have done to our livelihoods and the turmoil you have cost us. I will be loosing my home because my sales like many others have tanked with no explanation. Nothing we do to try to get ours sales back works. Lord knows we have tried for months now. May be you should try and go see this thread here;

      https://www.etsy.com/teams/7722/discussions/discuss/12512708/page/1

      I wrote you before and never heard a reply Mr. Dickerson, maybe you could reply to me and many of the sellers that you ignore.

      As to the author of this article if you need proof or how Etsy really works all you need to do is go to the bug forums and there is your proof of how well theses changes are going. Pick a day, any day and you will see the mess this site really is. Yet they keep collecting there fee’s and ignore there sellers. You will see a whole mess of problems that take weeks to resolve or not get resolved at all.

      We have to deal with weeks or test after test after test. We loose sales. Ask Mr. Dickerson about how much her really cares?

    • ribasus

      Chad, Chad, Chad… do you actually hear yourself? Can you be any more arrogant? Or, maybe you are just… stupid! At any rate, you are full of it. Well, Etsy is about to implode and you can keep yourself warm knowing that you played your part. Basically, your comments here are the typical of slippery, disrespectful sort if you are so *lucky* to hear from Etsy support.

  10. fgilles02420

    Chad, I openly invite you to contact me, if you can stand a little honesty.Want to talk to a real Etsy seller? Here I am.

    You allow reselling to dilute your brand and dominate the Etsy marketplace.
    You provide zero customer service to your sellers – no phone, and Admin simply ignore emails they don’t want to answer.
    You sanitize your own forums by removing any posts that don’t toe the line and are “disrespectful” to Etsy (hey, that could be half the posts at this point).
    And now you’ve retooled the feedback system so that it’s open season on sellers.

    But hey, the listing fees are cheap.

  11. Etsy does not listen to or care about what sellers think. All the recent changes they have made show what a serious disconnect there is between management and people who actually use the site on a daily basis. Hiding the shipping cost from the buyer in item listings, Idiotic changes to the feedback system, placing arrows right on top of the seller’s item photos so they partially block the item. Taking it upon themselves to put an announcement right next to the item that sellers don’t ship internationally when they do, changing the word feedback to “reviews”, hiding the feedback score with a childish grade school star system. The amateur, poorly thought out changes that are implemented by this site make it a very unstable place to have your business.
    I’m sick to death of hearing about resellers ruining everyone’s business. That’s just plain nonsense with no basis in fact. Ebay has millions of listings and the place is drowing in mass produced garbage but everyone can still find what they are looking for through refined searches. Etsy is ruining your business not the mass marketers.

  12. The admin “we” see in the forums have no idea what is happening just like we don’t. A simple peruse through the bugs threads and the few threads that get attention from admin (ie Melissa as mentioned above), it is clear as day that those who are answering in the forums have no clue what is really going on.

    I find it almost an insult to have some “snappy” response from a visible oranged lined avatar only to find out the real issue in a response to a support email request (days later) that states the exact problem and what has been done to fix it.

    The issue is that we all can complain, we all see the truth by being sellers, but things won’t change, it is obvious with the new feedback system and the purposely vague attempt to make Etsy Staff, ie Marc Hedlund’s discussion threads, seem like they care. This is a for profit company and it will remain that way.

    Until the sellers as an entire whole leave, stop using their direct checkout system or something on a huge scale, Etsy will not change. They have thrown this fact in our face time and again. They have fluffed the “weather report” statistics to the point of out and out lying among other, plain and in your face, examples that they are going to continue to do what they want and don’t give a darn about sellers or anyone else.

    I am riding out the storm but have definitely begun listing in other places and will leave once I build my customer base. I find Etsy to be a disgusting example of espousing Green and Handmade and Small business etc. It is time that Etsy was exposed for what it truly is, a “For Profit” Corporation without care or concern with whom they destroy as they climb to the top of the marketplace
    wars.

  13. Discusted

    If the top management on Etsy can not eliminate the resellers and if they can not return Etsy to the way that it was originally intended then maybe it is time for new upper management on Etsy.

    If Etsy was truly a handmade selling venue, provided good customer service, and if Etsy treated their sellers with respect and listened to their customers (the sellers), no other handmade selling venue would be able to remain in business very long. Everyone would be selling on Etsy.

    I am very surprised that nobody has mentioned the wonderful stories about Etsy on a venue called Regretsy.

    • I love regretsy! I’ve never laughed so hard.

      You should also check out twitter comments from upper management stating that, “everything went smoothly on the roll out of the new feedback system.” Smoothly for who? Certainly not the sellers. Upper echelon is so totally clueless about what is happening with the sellers. Nor do they care.

    • HappilyleftEtsy

      To me, the worst part about the resellers on Etsy is the fact that they not only allow them to list as handmade, they promote them (bali gate is a perfect example) they deny and deny. At least on ArtFire, they allow the resellers to remain, but in their own separate section. Once reported with proof, the resellers are simply moved to the commercial category then the onus is on them to prove they are indeed handmade. It works beautifully. AF doesn’t shut down their business it encourages all business types; amazing concept a venue that offers options to enterprises of all sorts.

      I have nothing against resellers, they don’t damage my business because I am competing against them every day on the web. The only problem is condoning the falsehood that the items are handmade by the artisan, collectives are a joke as the vast majority of them are sweat shop environments. The Etsy seller who said handmade sellers are moaning about resellers and that is not resellers fault they they don’t succeed doesn’t get it. It isn’t about the competition it is about Etsy refusing to address the resellers listing as handmade.

      Big difference on how venues handle resellers. I welcome resellers to AF as long as they are in commercial where they belong, I don’t welcome them falsely portraying themselves as handmade artisans. Etsy would gain my respect if they did something similar rather than
      encouraging them but advising them how to get around the rules by lying.

  14. I. M. Outahere

    I joined Etsy because even though I had heard some negative talk about them, I figured if people still made money, it was worth a shot. Well, within the 6 mos. I was there, there was the problem with names from credit cards being sent in emails to customers (one of those experiments gone wrong), I was kicked of one of their famous teams for speaking up for ArtFire and saying something radical (“Everyone has a right to their own opinion.”), and then there was the recent problem about the scraper site that the admin there has apparently ignored for approximately the entire time I was there. In addition, I decided my negative attitude was not good for me in general, I disliked professional sellers being treated like naughty children, and being there (with the resellers) was bad for my brand.

    It has become a mystery to my why Etsy still exists at all, because you can’t alienate your customer base like that (That’s the sellers, Chad) and still continue on like nothing happened. This will be interesting, but I’m happy watching from a distance.

  15. The reseller comments are baseless speculation. Neither is Etsy doubling down and swearing anything that points out the problems in their policies doesn’t actually exist so shut up.

    Case in point: Ecologico Malibu. Last year, Etsy featured a furniture importer/reseller on their Featured Seller feature. The shop owner sold them a song about importing reclaimed boatwood from Bali and personally constructing hundreds of pieces of furniture by herself each day. http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2012/featured-seller-ecologica-malibu/

    This did not sit right at all with Etsy users. Her story was thoroughly debunked. She shared an address and a business name with an import furniture business and signed the bills to have completed furniture dropped off on her doorstep: http://www.dailydot.com/business/etsy-reseller-ecologica-malibu-controversy/

    Etsy doubled down, shut down comments on the blog, and made up a whole new set of rules about “collectives” versus “resellers using overseas sweatshop labor” just to justify their choice of Ecologica Malibu as a featured. This post outlines the many revisions to the story and threats from Etsy staff to punish people “calling out” their mistake. http://craftymoira.blogspot.com/2012/04/etsy-scandal-ecologica-malibu.html

    When Etsy’s defense failed, the shop owner stole her husbands legal stationary, posed as a lawyer herself, and started sending cease and desist letters to everyone who reported on the story. Even this was not enough for Etsy to admit that they made a mistake: http://siouxsielaw.com/2012/04/27/etsy-featured-seller-ecologica-malibu-threatens-to-sue-anyone-who-questions-the-bone-fides-of-their-products/

    Eventually, many months later and long after the furor died down, Ecologica Malibu’s shop was removed from Etsy. No ammendment was made to the initial story. No apology was issued to the readers and users of Etsy. They just decided to make the shop disappear to save face long after the multitude of policy violations were known. Etsy made a lot of money off of her thousands of sales and they didn’t send that cash cow off to pasture until the funds started to dry up: http://siouxsielaw.com/2012/04/27/etsy-featured-seller-ecologica-malibu-threatens-to-sue-anyone-who-questions-the-bone-fides-of-their-products/

    So, Mr. Malik, before you accuse more readers of just slinging mud and insulting Etsy out of petty jealousy, perhaps you should research how the company actually treats rule breakers. You should see how their policies are rock solid until they might have to shut down a reseller, then they’ll change the meaning of everything they’ve ever stood by just to keep a high volume seller on the site. They mute people for pointing out problems on the site so they can no longer voice their complaints on Etsy itself. They arbitrarily ban shops based on rules that aren’t in the policies–either never stated or removed with policy revisions–just to prove they’re policing the site.

    If you really want to research how Etsy actually treats buyers and sellers, you need to look at the Ask Etsy threads that get shut down because Rob White gets his feelings hurt by buyer/seller feedback. You can see all of the admin comments at the start of these threads and many times Rob starts freaking out over criticism and threatens to shut down the topic, the forum feature, or the forums themselves because he can’t take the heat when it comes to Etsy policy failures.

    • Obscure Claire

      I have to say that I kind of like Rob White. For an admin, he seems like one of the more tolerant ones. I suspect that there are several admin that feel just almost bad about this as we do. Though watching Melinda dance around the facts for the last few hours has put a foul taste in my mouth.

      • Rob is great until he loses his cool. He helped me out a lot when I was still selling there. He’s actually willing to engage in a conversation. He just reaches that take his toys and go home point more often than he should.

  16. Obscure Claire

    It is worth mentioning that the part about Chad – the “Always Be Hustling” part is right on target. Before Etsy began all of the massive changes this month without giving any kind of courtesy notice (except little hints here and there in the forums), Etsy added a new little button on the side of our shops. It is an Earn Free Listings button. It is for 40 free listings for every friend that we get to open an Etsy shop. The friend gets another 40 free listings. Etsy knew how it was behaving and the new rules would upset the apple cart and alienate many sellers. Rather than try to reach out to the people they already have, the people that pay the fees and operate the shops – they figured they would cut to the chase and be ready to replace people. Yay Chad for that awesome business savvy! Yay chad for throwing the sellers out in the cold yet protecting your own ass. Smart man you are!!! But think about this, many sellers are leaving, many have closed up shop, many have had their shops shut down by Etsy – the forums have several threads started by buyers that didn’t get their goods and can’t find their sellers because shops are shutting down. And those sellers that have been there are leaving and being replaced with inexperienced sellers who may or may not have the skills the former sellers did. I am betting they don’t have the skills. It is amazing what people will do for 40 free listings.

  17. I sell fashion accessories on both Etsy and Artfire. I can say that I find Etsy’s practices to be unfriendly to most business models. Reading the forums on both sites provides great insight into customer satisfaction.

    Etsy forum participants tell horror stories of mistreatment at the heavy hand of Etsy corp and severe lack of administration accountability while the Artfire forums offer a supportive community from fellow sellers and administration. The atmosphere is night and day; one community dwells in fear while the other is surrounded with positivity. One asks for input and volunteer testing while the other does secret testing that costs sellers dearly. One has the owners active in the forum answering quesitons, giving sensible reasons of why thing can or cannot be done the other just ignores pleas for help. One allows resellers to falsely present themselves as handmade while the other solved the problem with a simple commercial section separate from the handmade. It works well on Artfire, Etsy could takes some lessons and learn how to handle the problem. Sure both places have their own forum drama, no doubt about that.

    I find that Etsy supresses business growth with their insistance of internal convos between seller and buyer. How silly is it for me to have to handle wholesale purchases with businesses through a convo? Childish and immature. I find it embarassing to have to tell a retail department store buyer that I can’t sell them my products unless they purchase them on Etsy. I can’t process their sale through email or over the phone. It makes me look like a hobby seller rather than a well established successful business woman. At least on Artfire I am welcome to foster strong business associations in what ever manner I choose. Being treated like an adult on equal footing with the administration is priceless. our input in valued rather than ignored.

    Etsy has 450 employees and you can’t find a phone number? Plush toy phone booths, cutesy avatars from the staff, no response for weeks if ever to requests for help on serious issues, juvenile terminology site wide, and a forum moderated with ridiculous guidelines all add up to an unprofessional site. Mr. Dickerson is far from a hero. It would be best to do some investigating to see the dark side of Etsy because it is there in full force.

    Yes, I still sell there because people buy there. My monthly fees are usually around 200.00 a month while on Artfire I pay 11.95 a month even though I sell more on Artfire than Etsy. As a seller on multiple venues I can say from first hand experience that Etsy’s vision has long been abandoned and that is just sad. Venture Capital money is the root of the problems. They have to pay back that money and resellers are the answer.

  18. The real truth, Mr. Malik is that you published your interview without doing any investigative reporting. You took published accounts of the company and treated them like fact, not PR.

    The facts are that etsy has it’s own lexicon. It calls factories collectives. Of course etsy is making billions. When you sell factory made goods as handmade people are willing to pay more.

    When you take away the voices of the people who are hand made makers you do not hear dissent. The forums have been sanitized on etsy so that only chit chat is allowed. buyers can say anything they want and sellers may not publicly respond.

    There is no help center at etsy, no phone lines, no assistance but an email. If they do not care to help or respond, you are out of luck.

    When you write pieces like this, it’s important to gather facts, because etsy will not respond to you again. You do not get a second chance. And while lots of the comments are emotional there is truth in all of them.

    Perhaps etsy board, from Walmart and Google and Ebay all assembled to mainstream etsy can assist you. You need to write another piece, this time with objective facts.

  19. Keith Walters

    I really don’t like how Chad gets credit for etsy at all. He was simply a tech guy that moved up in the ranks after the original creators of etsy left. He is not creative, nor does it seem he cares about fostering creativity. Other than letting anyone test anything at etsy live. He was made captain of a ship that was built by others, that is all.

    https://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2008/etsy-announcement-new-roles-at-etsy-inc/2268/
    Published on July 22, 2008 in Etsy News

    This is what WAS the vision for etsy BEFORE chad. There were people part of etsy that genuinely cared about the mission statement and direction at etsy.
    “I will also be spending time developing Etsy.org, a non-profit organization that will focus on the educational side of how to make a living making things. (Lots more details about this are coming soon. Right now, it’s in the planning stages.)” -Rob Kalin

    -Etsy publishes intents for etsy.org and five years later, nothing. This is typical of etsy. Promises then nothing. Promises, and then the opposite of what was promised. Tests and implementation with consideration of consequences and how it effects the general health of the community.

    Chad used to be supervised by Maria and Rob, because chad was brought on solely as a tech guy, with little to no connection with what etsy is really about. Somewhere along the lines he took the reigns. “Chad will manage our entire technical organization, including application development, network infrastructure and quality assurance. He will report to me.” -maria

    Quality assurance. I don’t think Maria had resellers and a search system the gives high ranks to bait and switch operations that steal buyers money in mind when she was thinking of quality assurance. I guess what do you expect though, Chad was at Yahoo before he infiltrated/infected Etsy.

    http://blog.chaddickerson.com/2008/07/22/leaving-yahoo/
    His philosophies about launching with accountability makes sense when you remember he came from yahoo. (anyone that has had yahoo for the last 10 years, knows what I am talking about) A step above hotmail.

    For the most part, at etsy, there is a real sense of a complete LACK of leadership, contrary to statements made by chad in interviews. I think Chad needs to go back to a tech title only, and hand the reigns to another spokes person that is connected with the community at etsy in a real way.

  20. heath Bern

    A company that promotes real people interaction does not practice what it preaches.

    The worst thing about Etsy is you cannot talk to anyone via phone and they don’t respond to serious issues, like shop theft, for weeks, if they respond at all.

  21. The Mermaid

    Etsy sellers are tired of having changes sprung on them with no warning. The recent Paypal nightmare and feedback star system are cases in point. Should Paypal go away, I will not be a buyer on Etsy anymore and I will also reconsider maintaining a store there. Loosing Paypal would effectively cut my business in half. Don’t fix what isn’t broken just because you want to cut Paypal out of commissions.

    • still at etsy maybe not for long

      Count me in on the ones leaving Etsy if they do away with PayPal. Plenty of people want to use it. If I am not mistaken, the internal Etsy payments don’t work for international sales – but my experience with that may be just a “glitch”.

      With PayPal, I can pay my Etsy bill, buy postage, and shop in millions of places. I can’t use my Etsy shop payments to do anything else. I have to transfer the money weekly to my checking account, and then I can’t get at it to spend it without going around the moon.

      The feedback changes are STUPID for true OOAK sellers. They are just lovely if you are mass producing the same item over and over and over. How can you review something that will never be made again?

      Om, if you want to see some examples of the resold stuff on Etsy, check out this search there, and see how many people are using the exact same pictures to list. Perhaps some buy the components and combine them “uniquely”, but if you poke around a bit, you’ll see how many of the 17000+ listings are for the same Chinese Trinket.

      https://www.etsy.com/search?q=silver%20bird%20necklace&view_type=gallery&ship_to=US

  22. Mandala Rain

    I am able to spend time with my kids and work from home thanks to Etsy.
    mandalarain.etsy.com
    and
    coyoterainbow.etsy.com
    I am very grateful.
    I do not agree with some things that Etsy does — the new feedback system change that came out today for example is appalling and a step in the WRONG direction — but I think Etsy does listen to the sellers and ultimately wants the same thing we want – the site to make money.
    It would be awesome if Etsy would start advertising on media now that the revenue is so high as mentioned in this article! That would be astronomical!

    • Shelley

      Mandala I agree with you and Etsy does advertise with google and facebook.

      Like any business, there are changes made that will not make everyone happy. I have learned to roll with the changes and adapt. Etsy has allowed me to leave a job I hated, stay home with my retired husband and work as little or as much as I want to. I have made life-long friends on Etsy through teams.

      My friend has a brick and mortar store making handmade stained glass items that was on the verge of closing because of the poor local economy. She opened an Etsy store and has had to hire another person to keep up with her orders.

      I think folks are not giving enough credit to legitimate sellers and smart buyers. I have no intention of leaving Etsy and I will keep buying there.

  23. glasgow53

    I don’t have a store on Etsy I am just a buyer but I want to say buyers and sellers arr both getting ripped off. As a buyer I go to Etsy for unique handmade items. But depending what you are looking for you have to wade through tons of mass produced dreck pretend to be handmade. A lot of these items are counterfeit items Sufi as Chanel or Disney. If you search these names on Etsy you will see. As a buyer I feel like I am being duped by Etsy. If you have licensing from the companies that is one thing nut most people don’t bother with that because it is expensive. Etsy turns a blind eye to that. The only one profitting here is Etsy. It has been suggested Etsy have two sites one for handmade and one for mass produced items. They probably won’t do that because resellers have learner they can sell an item on Alibaba for $1.00 and sell the same item on Etsy and get more money because they call it handmade. Feels like fraud to me.

  24. Gabrielle

    Chad has totally drunk the Kool aid. Does he seriously not understand how Esty’s decision to allow “collectives” (or whatever euphemism they are using for outsourcing) is completely inconsistent with the ideal of buying directly from artisans? Esty has capitalized on the brand of buying handcrafted while abandoning the business model (and the sellers) that made the site so popular.

    • bleu3000

      That goes back to Sandy’s comment:
      “Etsy has had numerous mistakes, but will never admit to anything.”

      When the last huge reseller backlash happened, Etsy introduced the redefined term “collective” to mean factory made….voilà – no more “resellers”.

  25. HappilyleftEtsy

    Just for clarification, I was successful on Etsy. Nothing ever happened to me in a negative sense. No mutings or even a warning. I am not a moaner/groaner who blames Etsy for poor sales. I was thriving.

    It was a conscious decision I made to speak with my dollars. I was finding it difficult to face the reality of selling on Etsy when they were so far removed from my ethics. I now rest easy knowing that my fees go to a company that deserves my support. I chose not to simply look the other way.

  26. RainbowGlitterUnicorn

    Chad: “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.”

    Of course e-commerce reduces everything to math – it’s called the bottom line. Nobody thinks Etsy shouldn’t make a profit, just stop trying to pretend consumers buy things online because they want a touchy feely interaction with another human being. They buy things online because it’s easy and they DON’T have to deal with other human beings.

    Jeff Bezos already figured this out years ago of course, Mr Dickerson is just trying to sprinkle hipster fairy dust on it.