Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We welcome our new Handmade Overlords

Today MaryMary posted an announcement in the Etsy forums, with an accompanying Storque article, describing some new staff and new roles at Etsy Inc. Along with it came a personal message from Rob Kalin.

I am grumpy to announce that, against my will, Maria has replaced me as Etsy’s CEO. She is now my boss. My new title at Etsy is Chief Cupcake Officer (CCO), a nice meaningless moniker that will allow me to focus on what I'm best at: lying about my experience, stalking private blogs, and reading children's books.

I will also be spending time developing Etsy.org, a money-losing organization that will focus on failed hammock videos, dressing up in silly costumes, eating cupcakes, and giving jobs to my unemployable friends. (More vague details about this are coming soon. Right now, I'm still licking my wounds from getting canned.)

I’ve been filling many roles since Etsy began, all of them new to me. That's because I have no actual experience in anything useful. It’s been an embarassing and exhausting education, much of it public. Watching Maria, with her experience and expertise and sanity, has made me realize what a failure I really am. I’m excited to get back to what I enjoy most, (living in my fantasy world) and maybe even check Etsybitch less than fifteen times a day for the first time in a long time.

Ok, he didn't really write that - thanks Bitches Auxiliary! By the way, it's amazing how many people saw "CCO" and thought "Chief Cupcake Officer". Grumpy minds think alike.

To be serious for a moment, we here at Etsy Bitch are hopeful that Maria's leadership and Chad's technical expertise will usher in a new era of professionalism and progress for Etsy. Hopeful that amateurish tutorials for shoddy workmanship will be banished to the Rainbow Land of Etsy.org. Hopeful that practical, useful tools that will help members market and move their wares will finally take priority. Hopeful that obnoxious, discourteous staff members will be duct-taped and locked in the janitor's closet in favour of pleasant, knowledgeable communicators. Hopeful that resellers and mass-producers will receive the swift kick to the ass they deserve, and that Etsy returns its mission statement and original principles that have been so subverted and abused of late.

Good-bye Rob. Hello Maria and Chad.


just bitchy said...

Does this mean Revolving Dipshit will need to stop playing games during the hours he's supposed to be working and actually work? Golden parachute so he can continue his game playing professionally?

Hallelujah to Maria moving to CEO, Rob being relegated to resident dreamer and the addition of Chad who I'm hopeful will get some type of useful project management schedule and thoughtful prioritizing going.

AdiosAmanuensis!!!!!! said...

I was wondering when you guys were gonna lay down the snark for this momentous news!!!!!
That was hilarious and so on the money. You know the poor little dude is bummed because his reign of crazy is over!

HOPEFULLY we won't have to suffer anymore ridiculous storque nonsense and they'll move that crap over to the .org like you mentioned..... one can only hope!

Dare I say though that I am a bit excited that something on that damn site might actually work for once with the new tech guy? Might emails actually be answered and might the featured sellers actually be chosen from a pool of non kiss asses from now on???

Can't wait to find out!

impetuous said...

With regard to the .org nonsense:
What experience does Rokali have making a living handmade and why doesn't he donate some of this "non-profit" time he has talking to the people drowning in the promo section of the forums.

You know, the people desperate for sales from that business he started called Etsy???

Dudes got ADD for realz.

lessa said...

A welcome change, maybe the kids will have to start earning those paychecks.

Though I am taking bets on when and how much fees will be going up.

Will it be the 'PR friendly' time right after the New Year or the 'we've got you by the balls' end of October, you either pay more or forfeit your pre-holiday advertising.

CEO's and CTO's don't work for peanuts.

just bitchy said...

Higher fees may discourage some of the resellers so I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

lessa said...

Oh I don't think its bad per se, its all in the timing and amount. It has been two years since a fee increase, the cost of everything is going up and with the size of Etsy's staff, their operating expenses and other costs 27 million don't go as far as it used to. They most likely need to increase fees to be profitable, just like its time for me to redo my own pricing structure again.

yeah you right said...

if the listing fees go up and they actually purchase advertising it may well be worth it. not for what we've got now
they got to show they are going to clean up reselling and mass produced crap- even from top sellers. or at least have them come clean about their process

also what is going to happen with etsyvintage and etsysupplies
will all the same sellers be in the gift guides again?

el-stinko-armpit said...

This is good news for me because right now I can feel I made a wise decision closing my Etsy account.

Also, I can look forward to EB sing-a-longs to 'How do you solve a problem like Maria' before too long.

As for Chad, methinks he might surprise the EBs and have a lot in common with the current Etsy techies. I took a glance at his blog, but it was too soon after my lunch to get more than a gorge-raising fast first impression.

Nice try, Etsy. Now please some other creative soul needs to pick up the torch!

ishi said...

wow, that happened really quickly

old hippie bitch said...

EB, your version is much more honest.

I reserve judgement on this announcement until I see something--anything! about making etsy a superb SELLING venue and a wonderful SHOPPING experience.

Keep your "quirky"...keep your "independent culture." I don't give a damn about that bogus crap. Etsy thinks it invented this shit?

Yep, I'm gonna keep bitchin' until I see something real.

The Funny One said...

A lovely, concise, very clear summation. Taking double-speak and making sense of it! Ah, but those Famous Etsy Secrets are to be found elsewhere if one looks hard enough..........

I am putting in my request (10 times at least) that Business Writing for All Employees be added to the Virtual Labs Workshops Schedule ASAP, EB at the lecturn please.

j. hart photography said...

wow. someone who knows what they are doing in the Tech department! i'm shocked.

and i had to laugh out loud when i read: "My new title at Etsy is Chief Creative Officer (CCO), a nice loose moniker that will allow me to focus on what I'm best at: product work and long-term, big-picture thinking."

what the heck does that mean?

well, whatever. i'm pretty over etsy and don't find too much of any discussion interesting anymore.

theoriginalwtf said...

Does this mean Revolving Dipshit will need to stop playing games during the hours he's supposed to be working and actually work?

My thoughts exactly! (well, right after "God I hope this Chad guy gives RD the boot!")

eclipse said...

Rokali has posted again here

"There’s a lot to do… from customer support to new features (seller stats!)."

Dare we hope it? That customer service will get a competent manager next??

Ladies Auxilliary said...

I am ECSTATIC. For now :) I know...premature...but we've been waiting for something like this for SO LONG!

Ladies Auxilliary said...

I hope this means I won't have to sit around anymore wondering "really? 23 computer dudes and nooooo progress? but...why?" anymore.

notnecessarilyabadthing said...

and i had to laugh out loud when i read: "My new title at Etsy is Chief Creative Officer (CCO), a nice loose moniker that will allow me to focus on what I'm best at: product work and long-term, big-picture thinking."

what the heck does that mean?


I think lots of creative people are that way. Idea after idea, and they want to keep going, move on to the next, and the next. I know for me, when I make my work, I get bored if I have to repeat it again. I sketch elaborate things in my sketchbook that would take days to make, so I don't make them. But they're great ideas! I think that may be what Rob is saying? He's best at the overall issue, the bigger picture, the great idea.

Ivydee said...

I'm more hopeful than I have been in a long time. Does this mean I'll stop working on building my own shop? Hell no, but I think its a baby step in the right direction.

I'm curious though about what all this fear that Etsy will become "corporate". What does that mean?

What do people fear will happen? Etsy will raise its prices? Well, that is bound to happen sooner or later, anyway. They stop taking a personal interest in their sellers? I happen to think that taking an emotional "step-back" from the sellers may be a good thing. No more favoritism.

I really don't know, beyond those, what other negative aspects of "going corporate" could be. And I'm not trying to be bitchy, I'm honestly curious what the argument against it is. Other than, "oooo, big business-bad".

I simply see it as running a company with some structure, a solid plan and a professional attitude.

lone haranger said...

Rob was fired. They give him a useless title as a boobie prize. The question is not what Maria does, its how many other folks follow Rob out the door. And when they go, will any of the good in etsy remain

eclipse said...

I hope some people follow Rob out the door!
The good employees should remain and the useless wastes of oxygen can go live in a van down by the river.

Bye Rokali! said...

Even the original VC calls it a "transition" which means Rokali got canned.

It's not surprising that he got fired. It's surprising that it only took a few weeks for Maria to realize Rob had no skills whatsoever.

ShrugItOff said...

I find all of this very encouraging toward change at Etsy!

Great parody of Rob's letter, btw!

sulking said...

"long-term, big-picture thinking" means coming up with lots of ideas and never feeling the need to deliver any of them. He is definitely much better off catering to hobby crafters over on Etsy.org, teaching them how to make hammocks, learn the techniques of top sellers and rip them off, etc.

I have long said to everyone "Etsy is great, the staff just need some experience management types to come in and actually show them how to run a business" and now it seems to be happening! So exciting :)

Oh, I didn't know where to post this so I'll mention it here though it's off topic (sorry!) - a great comment on the current "quit your day job" feature (another person quitting "the restaurant industry" haha) which I expect to be deleted sometime soon...


mypinkeareddog says:

Trying to say this nicely.
Is this shop licensed to sell these trademarked characters? I don't know the ins and outs of trademarks and copyrights and patents, but I try not to buy pirated goods.
Seems strange to promote this on the front page.

This is the sort of thing I hope Maria will get control of...

wristeroni said...

Chad = good news!

(And yes, Chief Cupcake Officer was my first thought about Rob's new title too!)

lessa said...

Not sure what happened to my last post, another has popped up after I hit send so maybe it got offered as a sacrifice to the internet gods.



Interesting find about that 'QYDJ' seller. She has a tutorial listed on craftster for these dolls. So, I doubt she has a license agreement with anyone.

Grace said...

The sun will come out, tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow, therell be sun
Jus thinkin about, tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow
til theres none

When Im stuck with the day thats gray and lonely
I just stick out my chin and grin and say, ohhh

The sun will come out, tomorrow
So you gotta hang on til tomorrow
Come what may...

Incognito said...

I hope this means a move in a good direction for Etsy. I know there are many areas that could be improved/ fixed but overall I really like Etsy as a venue. My sales are great even with everything that is wrong. Rob might be not cut out for this anymore but I am glad he started Etsy so I can have a venue to sell.
Maybe I just have my head in the sand to much.

The Righteous One said...

Maria was probably brought on board so Rob COULD leave.

I'm sure this has been building, when companies bring in a COO (Maria's original title) it's to transition out the old CEO gracefully and without embarrassment.

He founded Etsy, that's been their public claim for 3 years - how great he is. He IS Etsy publicly.

So now he's sitting pretty until he is pushed into obscurity and an episode of 'where are they now?' like so many others.

godot said...

No sign of Matt, huh?

I'm thinking he's not going to stay and work for Maria.

impetuous said...

One thing is for sure. Rob is in no position to claim Etsy is definitely going in one direction or the other anymore.

To say they are not going public or to declare they will not become "corporate" is simply out of his hands now.

He sold out.
He is officially a tool.

shannon said...

well, I for one think it was good that he realized that a transition was needed. Sometimes, even if you originate an idea, it's tough to carry it out, but some people cling to their idea, even if they are making a mess of it, and sometimes letting go is best for everyone.

shannon said...

Oh yea, and a few weeks ago, my brother was like my friend[a computer programmer] was interviewing at etsy and that they were interviewing a lot of people. I enjoy saying things that have nothing to do.

Ladies Auxilliary said...

"And when they go, will any of the good in etsy remain."

Awww, come on...maybe a little dramatic? Are we sure this isn't a line from a wristeroni video? There's a piece of me that loves the piece of Rob Kalin that founded Etsy, I can see the bittersweet in a transition but..."will any of the good remain"? Honestly, none of us know, but oh the DRAMA :)

The Funny One said...

I heartily join in any efforts to reduce the Drama that is Etsy.

It would be a nice change to see all the abrasive personalities (by self-appointment) fade into where they belong - Backstage.

One of the biggest problems on Etsy has been the constant need to assert personality and personal decisions into all "business" done on the site. And placing all hope in one or two new names isn't going to help them break the habit of acting like the site is a personal platform, and their personal opinions are the only ones that matter. Drama indeed.

grxju said...

"....a nice loose moniker that will allow me to focus on what I'm best at: product work and long-term, big-picture thinking."


Man, that guy is full of himself.

Long term big picture thinking eh?

Like how Vintage was a huge mistake that *had* to go, (or not, once he figured out how much that was going to affect their bottom line not to mention how Vintage brings in a whole other buying type.) or how swimmingly aweseom teh Constitution was going to be (see enrage and confuse your cusotmers, then throw it away and chalk up the time spent on it to failed cupcake production...)

Or how about the dodo, your longwinded, numbnutted information sharing etsy "blog" that no one really likes or uses, with the exception of a few etsy kool aid drinkers and the occasional unicorn leg humpers.

Yeah, hez a real genius.

Dude figured out he could take creative types from the Ebay platform to a new one, using free listings to tempt them over.

Big Whoop.
Newsflash Kalin.
That doesn't make you the Gandhi/Einstein of the handmade movement.

I'm so thrilled they showed him the door!
(Though they most likely had to show him how to open said door and then how to go through it,as one assumes that Mr.Kalin felt like he could find a better way to re-invent leaving a building...maybe he's still in the doorway, looking at new, exciting handmade ways to pass through doorways of all ilk. Go Swimmy, go!)


I trust now they'll buy a real tent with real branding and get some kind of a real focused look when etsycorp appears in public.

(Man, I hope so. That nasty, lame and awkward Renegade tent still stands as a physical represntation of all of Rob's "great ideas, friendly hires" come home to roost.)

Don't let the door hit you on the way out Mr.Kalin, you lying, slow witted, paranoid, self importanced little "genius" you...

*pops champagne, has mid week mimosa, hopes for a new common sense etsycorp future*

Simone said...

"One thing is for sure. Rob is in no position to claim Etsy is definitely going in one direction or the other anymore."

I suspect that not going to be true, ultimately - he's still on the board and presumably he still owns his share of the company.

ShrugItOff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WindysDesigns said...

Rokali's just riding it out until the site is sold, I'll bet you anything. He'll take the slings and arrows and the insults.....all the way to the bank, doing the cupcake jig.

Ladies Auxilliary said...

I'm doing my own cupcake jig :)

The Righteous One said...

"well, I for one think it was good that he realized that a transition was needed. "

I don't think it was his idea. There's a few investors with 3 million and 27 million dollars at stake that are probably calling the shots.

impetuous said...

simone said...
"One thing is for sure. Rob is in no position to claim Etsy is definitely going in one direction or the other anymore."

I suspect that not going to be true, ultimately - he's still on the board and presumably he still owns his share of the company.

I would bet my anus he cannot match a 27 million dollar investment. The majority share of that company ain't Kalin.

lessa said...

Their lawyer just posted this in the comments under the 'QYDJ' seller who is making trademarked characters.

'What a wonderful article about a wonderful artist. I want to remind everyone that it’s not up to us (people who don’t know the details) to jump to legal conclusions. It’s a wonderful thing when someone can do what they love for a living.

Except Sarah that a quick google shows she talks of making the patterns herself. Her interview tells of how she quit her 'restaurant industry job' aka waitress/hostess job to make these characters. I don't see where she talked of the capital necessary to get license agreements with lucasfilms, warnerbrothers, schoolastic, nintendo, etc. I used to work many years ago as the office manager of a screenprint/embroidery business. They paid out thousands every year for the embroidery designs they used and these were just things like eagles and bunnies. I'm pretty sure Star Wars characters are going to cost a wee bit more.

Etsy just plain should not be highlighting something that could be illegal. This only makes the situation for this type of thing even worse on Etsy.

lessa said...

I would bet my anus he cannot match a 27 million dollar investment. The majority share of that company ain't Kalin.


Something I wonder. Rob was the public head of Etsy, but Haim, Chris and Jared are noted as part of the founding four. I wonder whether they are also members of the board, whether they own a share of Etsy?

el-stinko-armpit said...

Okay, so Rob is no longer sitting at the head of the Etsy table...will Etsy change focus and/or direction? If so, how/where will it go?

It would be nice to think that a site lead by Maria will keep the original Etsy concept -- which was damn cool before the site got big enough to become infested with investor $$$$ -- and just get more professional about performing standard business functions.

But I don't think Etsy's future is that simple or rosy.

Heh, EB needs a prediction thread so the world of snarky comments can post their best (or worst) guesses for what the revised Etsy will be, say, by July 1, 2009.

forum rubbernecker said...

I have always thought it odd that Rokali is set on selling the dream of how to make a living selling things, but many of those on Etsy trying to achieve his "dream" can't even fill out a customs form. Not everyone is cut out to sell things, and not everyone's work is good enough to sell and they need to stop pretending that anyone can do it. It's kind of Tony Robbinsish to me.... selling a dream with no substance. Like someone said one day "Just because your Aunt Fran said that is the cutest little felted thing ever, it doesn't mean that you necessarily can or should be selling them"

eclipse said...

I hope Matt stays. I get the feeling he was sometimes frustrated with Rob's antics too, I mean I know they are friends but even your friends can annoy you sometimes. He seems more comfortable with professionalism so I don't see any reason why he'd be uncomfortable working with Maria. Remember, he is the one who always had to clean up the mess after the children had their public tantrums. That's a thankless task. He might just be relieved to work with fellow adults now!

qb said...

In regards to the qydj seller, I'm willing to bet her items fall under the parody stature. She's not making exact replicas, so she has free reign in crocheting them. However, the names for those characters probably are not available to be used. However, I'm not a lawyer nor do I play one on tv.

eclipse said...

Yep all the names are trademarked, as is the superman "S" logo, etc.
The items are cute and desirable, and she is giving them her own spin, but you can't deny most of the desirability is coming from the established characters created by someone else.
I am sure we'd all sell more if we piggy-backed on the creativity of hugely successful brands and characters. Too bad it's illegal. :(

The Incredulous One said...

Ooh, goody, I see that some of our readers are bitching about the same thing that's been bugging the shit out of me all day. I just posted my rant about the QYDJ article. Enjoy. :)

WindysDesigns said...

so to put it into perspective, If I decided to take pictures of thr black applies work, shrink them down and use them to make pins or pendants out of wire and glass, it would be acceptable, correct? I always thought it would be cool to collaborate with an artist to do his, but according to this article it isn't necessary.

Makes you wonder why so many people advise all those hello kitty copiers to make their own unique creatures. Why should they if the market it there for their pirated goods.

Simone said...

Going back to the Australian copyright issue (unrelated to the topic at hand, I know!) ... I don't know the details of this situation, but an Australian business has every right (not to mention an obligation) to follow Australian laws.

There are certain situations when something which is in the public domain in the US is not so in Australia and I'm sure US-based sellers wouldn't expect to have to follow the Australian law in this situation.

However, claiming copyright on something in the public domain (meaning copyright has expired) is not possible to my knowledge. Again, I don't know the specifics of this situation and perhaps the copyright claim is based on some other factor, but if not, then I guess that would be the suspect bit.

The Funny One said...

Based on the response to the trademark and copyright issues, and Etsy's refusal to fess up when it makes another one of its frequent mistakes, it should be more than very clear to the new CEO that:

Etsy needs a PR manager who reads and approves all written statements made by all Etsy employees. No more mistakes, personal opinions, and personal vendettas.

Etsy also needs a Promotions manager to review the dozens of Etsy-run tools for promoting on the site.

Get clear about what Etsy employees and their relatives can and cannot do in regard to opening stores, and benefitting from their personal relationships, including promotions.

And do something about tightening up your ethics rules, because the statements being made outside Etsy by self-identified Etsy employees do have consequences that affect the company's operations.

Take this stuff out of the hands of individuals who have obviously damaged seller-relations (and continue to do so on a daily basis), and completely confused potential buyers.

You cannot continue to publish extensive Seller Tips articles and discipline sellers left and right when you have absolutely no clear rules of behavior for your very own employees. What Etsy does affects every single seller on the site.