XOXO: Chad Dickerson - Etsy
Chad Dickerson is the CEO and former CTO of Etsy, the world’s largest marketplace of handmade art and vintage finds.
XOXOing: Crafting and Commerce
First up: Etsy acquires the city of Portland
The first item ever sold on Etsy
Some example products:
- Abe Lincoln riding a grizzly bear with an M-16
- A cross-stitch zombie Johnny Cash and photography of Larry and Gary from Twin’s Day are in Chad’s office
- The Thank God You Are Finally Divorced card is for capturing a particularly great moment.
- Chad uses a big similar to this one, made out of a leather jacket.
- This bike-rim clock is in Chad’s office, too. * There are hand-made footballs
- This is the couch in Chad’s office
- Robot sculptures from an SNL illustrator
- And Chad’s holiday cards last year were even cheerier than the divorce cards
Finally, a cutting board that Chad feels demonstrates everything awesome about Etsy, an etched cutting board which is embossed with a grandmother’s recipe.
The hear “Etsy changed my life” a lot, and that it’s not just about selling, it’s about liberation and a sense of direction. Etsy has teams around the world, that go far beyond just being about commerce.
He quotes from Sara Horowitz’s Quiet Revolution in the Atlantic:
This sharing economy is based on people coming together to create their own markets…[like]Etsy … This new shared market economy is being driven by a quiet revolution… This movement is inadvertently creating a new economic engine that has the potential to reorganize our economy.
Quotes from Clinton at the DNC, but says Etsy is already delivering it so they don’t have to rely on government to do so.
They want to make money while having their community make even more money. Etsy took 3.5% of the over half a billion in sales on their platform last year. 800,000 active sellers, $525M in community sales in 201, which is already exceeded in 2012. 40 million visitors a month from 150 countries.
Chad says Etsy believes in RFK’s perspective on the GDP:
[G]ross national product … does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play,
the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages. . . it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
Etsy’s company values:
- We are a mindful, transparent, and humane business.
- We plan and build for the long term.
- We value craftsmanship in all we make.
- We believe fun should be part of everything we do.
- We keep it real, always.
Talks about moving from Berkeley to NYC: There was a lot of activism in Berkeley, but there wasn’t a lot of fun. The Berkeley Bowl has great produce, but he got scowled at a lot. But every company says that — if you watched a BP ad, you wouldn’t even know they got oil out of the ground.
Etsy is committed to the ideals behind becoming a B Corp, and rather than merely being best in the world, they want to be best for the world. From Chad’s announcement of the B Corp, they addressed not just how they don’t sell out, but how they can honor the obligation they have to their community.
We believe, more than ever, that Etsy can help fundamentally change the way the world works by making it possible for individuals to makeand sell things to other people around the globe — a people-powered economy.
Traditional incorporation requires corporate leaders to serve the best interest of its shareholders, but B Corps are pushing to do what’s in the best interest of all their stakeholders, including their community. And Chad would like to see every company, including the sellers in Etsy’s economy, measure themselves against the B Corp scoring criteria.
Marc Hedlund started their initiative with Hacker School to encourage women to apply to the program, and led to the first-ever 50/50 gender mix at a Hacker School class; this was the highest percentage of women applying ever.
Every Friday, Etsy employees transport 150 pounds of lunch waste from Eatsy to the local community farm by bike, and this shows that companies can do the right thing and be really joyful places to work. Because riding a bike through the streets on a Friday while waving to the neighbors is a wonderful experience.
One of the best aspects of being a B Corp is the Declaration of Interdependence, which makes clear how a company has to think about its impact on its community. This was exemplified by Etsy’s support of the SOPA/PIPA protests, and Chad got to be in conversation with a U.S. Senator who explicitly declared how much they had heard the web community’s response to the proposed legislation.
A few weeks ago, the Mayor of Rockford, Illinois asked if Etsy was partnering with high schools or cities, and before Chad could respond, a member of the Rockford Etsy team responded to that mayor. And it’s the sort of opportunity that comes from a joke blog post about Etsy leading to real political leaders collaborating with new companies to make the world a better place.