Monday, February 23, 2009

State of the Etsy

Maria has been in charge of Etsy now for 7 months. It's been that long since she replaced dear Rokali as the CEO (because of course she wears coral nail polish). But what has really been changing?

Rob left to pursue Etsy.org, a site he said was to help artisans sell or something. We're not really sure. It's just a Pink parachute on a page and has been since he announced it almost a year ago. (hrmm "Has-been" is a good word isn't it?) Etsy.org I think was just a card trick.

But so is Rob's OTHER venture - Parachute.org, a site to ... well we're not entirely sure about it either but it's something to do with internet learning and classrooms. We've read how much he despises traditional educational standards like classrooms and paying for college, what makes this all the more confusing is that it shares the same logo and font as Parachute HiFi - Rob's high-end audio equipment dealership. (Creative ain't he? Etsy's logo is the same font as well. He's nothing if not predictable) To me those parachutes aren't hot pink – they're golden.

We did get Chad, and that seems to be the best move of all in bringing Etsy into the land of technical responsibility and internet goodneighborship with the API that is being developed. But when Etsy starts officially welcoming developers to make tools, how many of them will Etsy itself utilize? Will we do what we are forced to now, using a series of other sites and third party scripts to give us the mere shadows of the features we want and need? Will Etsy ever integrate the tools to provide them to everyone, not the ones brave enough.

Maria, our once great white hope, hasn't made any difference at all as Etsy's CEO of seven months. She still lives in DC!

She might poke her head into Brooklyn occasionally, but don't let them fool you she's working from home. It's hard to keep an eye on the kid's running the shop when you are hours away. You can't even really monitor hiring incoming employees since you are out of the loop. She doesn't have a grasp on what's going on since she's not in the stinking diesel scented air of Brooklyn - so how effective can she be? Maria came on board with a lofty and voluminous "mission statement" that has been all but forgotten. Not much has changed, and when sellers ask about those old promises, Etsy just cuts and pastes little tidbits from the original bloated treatise.

Matt has been demoted to revamping Teams, with a new incoming marketing person (who granted, might actually have experience). But we pity him that he's he latest to have DanielleXO foisted on thier department.

So many changes in seven months, but in all, not much has really different. And that's the saddest part of all this.

38 Comments:

Loula said...

Always an interesting take. Agree, how is it possible to run a growing company from another city? I think it is now out of his hands and he is just waiting for an IPO. Roll on API.

PB::JJ::WW said...

Etsy Bitch be praised!

Thank you for saying it...yet again.
What is so terribly sad, is that when all this "change" and new blood as Maria and Chad came in there was such an opportunity for them to turn Etsy around and make a fabulous site. They were handed a mound of clay on silver platter with which to mold a truly useful and successful venue, only to fuck it up in the end.

FAIL? You bet your ass they did.

Lots of us have moved on from Etsy, however I am glad to see you bitches are still fighting for what would be a "better" Etsy for all. I just wonder how long EB can keep it up...

-JJ & PaintedBull

Old Hippie Bitch said...

I did not know the CEO doesn't even live in the same city as the corporate office. Well, that certainly explains alot.

The kids in Brooklyn have no boss onsite. Can you imagine how little actual work gets done? Of course you can, we see it on the site.

And the Parachute crap? Gotta wonder if that kid in the photo is Rokali aka Peter Pan.

He sells speakers for a living?
Bawaaaaaah!

forum rubbernecker said...

I think Maria has no clue how Etsy is run. She couldn't possibly and allow it to be run the way it is. I have often thought of writing her a nice long letter. But an anonymous letter would not be taken seriously and writing one in my real name, would kill my business there (which is pretty good), so I haven't written it.

The Funny One said...

I think what's most notable about Etsy's lack of progress and innovation is how completely isolated they are from reality.

Since Etsy has changed to a site that actively promotes only a tiny fraction of stores on the site for free, they are living in a bubble that they created. Which is fine, if you are a site that promotes (for free) only those stores handpicked by a couple of fulltime employees according to their personal taste.

Etsy sure doesn't look or act like a site that actually throws out numbers like 275,000 total stores - first time visitors surely have the impression that Etsy is a select site for select sellers. Which is why those visitors only see a few products promoted all over the site for months at a time (for free).

Etsy seems to be living in a alternate retail universe----because all they care about is promoting and selling their handpicked products---------and have come up with a forumula approach that makes money-----FOR ETSY.

The thing about the Etsy Formula (other than cutting themselves off from most sellers) is that it's boring, repetitive, and narrow.

Interesting is that anything "new" on Etsy is just another tweak that sends the same old message --- free labor, free advertising, and free marketing. As long as Etsy can throw the work out to sellers gullible enough to do all their PR work (and produce mostly Etsy-approved products for the Etsy price), the more isolated they become.

And a huge employee headcount that is pretty expensive overhead for a company that just doesn't do much for those of us who are struggling to try to stay in business and keep producing handmade products.

Etsy isn't worth 20 cents a listing anymore.

stumper said...

It's almost as if everything has been put on hold. Is that Etsy's way of dealing with headline news? because if it is, they will miss even more opportunities. Perhaps no one is left with any passion, or interest, or even real concern other than we customers.
Doing nothing is the same as doing something-- but with no control. The times will continue to roll over Etsy-- just when it could be carving out its niche.
Irrevocably sad.

Stephanie - The Snarky One said...

I had no idea the CEO lived elsewhere. Well DUH, that's why nothing is getting done.

I'll say it again, it REALLY isn't hard to code tools for your users - and make them easy to use. It's also not hard to create software to automatically generate the front page, thus allowing EVERYONE to get their 15 minutes of fame.

Come on Etsy programmer kiddies, I'm probably twice your age and I could write the code in a couple of hours! It ain't that hard. Geez.

How about getting things setup so we can create HTML listings? That would be great. You could create basic layouts for those not computer-wise AND it would make listings look much more professional. Hell, I'd pay an extra .10 per listing to make my shop look better.

Okay, climbing down off my soap-box and in search of coffee!

Rana said...

forumrubbernecker - and anyone else in a similar situation -

I encourage you to write the letter anyway. If it is detailed and specific, it should be taken seriously, even if the name signed to it is fake. A comment to the effect that you'd use your real name if you weren't afraid of retaliation ought to be part of the complaint.

I know that if I got such a letter, I'd wonder about where it came from and whether that person had an axe to grind - but I'd also look into what it mentioned, if it seemed specific and thoughtful.

Maria needs to know these things - AND to know that people aren't telling her about them because they are too afraid to do so. Both are problems that need fixing.

stumped said...

I clicked on all those parachute sites. Is that supposed to be a business? He's WAY off; what a jerk.

just disgusted said...

With the dorque- I think Etsy HAS lost it's focus.

I thought it was supposed to be a venue so small time handcrafters would have a nice, big internet place to sell, and buyers could find you there.

What it looks like to me is a juried site attached to a blog. Just why does Etsy think it can write scintillating articles about, oh, fashion, or ecology, or whatever? Anything I've ever seen on there has been done better by someone else, in fact a lot of it looks like half-plagerized crapola.

You want people to buy? You want to give them suggestions?? Try doing it on the front page instead of some insipid blog articles no one reads, that sellers are PAYING you to write.

The Skeptical One said...

What proof do you have that Maria doesn't live in Brooklyn? Be aware - Posting inaccurate and defaming info about a person or company and stating it as a fact is libel and can get your pretty little asses sued. I for one would like to see your sources for stupid claims like this.

bloop bloop derp said...

I think etsy created an interesting concept, but if a site like 1000markets or artfire can be properly run, one of those will be the big name to profit from it.

I expect more internet communities to push back against the spam campaign they send their sellers on. Flickr already has, good for them.

The Cranky One said...

How do we know? We've heard it numerous times from Etsy seller team members in DC. Maria has been meeting with sellers there on and off for a few months about Etsy and getting ideas etc - and they all said she lives there and hasn't moved.

The Funny One said...

Where the CEO lives doesn't matter as much as the fact that Etsy Admins keep reprinting sections of her big ass, 7-month old statement to sellers when they ask what the hell is going on.

7 months ago was a different economy. 7 months ago is light years away for online retail. 7 months ago is another fucking century for online retail sites that are working their asses off to stay relevant and reach out to as many customers as possible with deals, coupons and incentives to shop and SPEND MONEY ---- like Amazon.

Etsy is so far out of the loop, there isn't a planet that will have 'em.

foxaz said...

According to the Craig's List "about" page, Craig's List has 25 employees.

Etsy has upwards of 60.

Why so many, Etsy?

ex-brooklynite said...

I found it amusing that etsy was mentioned in the NY Post yesterday as one of the local companies "now hiring"

http://tinyurl.com/cnuwl6

missemmy said...

" Brooklyn-based Etsy, an online marketplace for buying and selling handmade stuff, has nine openings, with more to come in the next month, says spokesman Matthew Stinchcomb.

As the company expands, it needs experienced Web technology developers and programmers, including someone to lead its overall tech strategy. The four-year-old site is also looking for someone to head its search-engine marketing efforts. (etsy.com)"

"According to the Craig's List "about" page, Craig's List has 25 employees.

Etsy has upwards of 60."


----
wow! I live in the Silicon Valley and can tell you for sure that you do not need 69+ people to run a website. including ones that actually get things done

disappointed said...

All good questions raised in the original article. And I can't for the life of me figure out what 60 people are doing there.

Pissed off Buyer said...

What proof do you have that Maria doesn't live in Brooklyn? Be aware - Posting inaccurate and defaming info about a person or company and stating it as a fact is libel and can get your pretty little asses sued. I for one would like to see your sources for stupid claims like this.

_________________

It's not defamation to claim a person lives in a different city than where they are employed.

It's not defamation to publicly question what the head of a company has accomplished since taking the position.

It's not defamation to provide publicly available insecure links to a person's "new" contact information or their "new" enterprise.

Howard Snidbiscuits said...

That's insane, more employees?? Nine spots open??

They could already chop half their staff off and make the remaining ones, I don't know, actually work??

I can't think of a single company that gets less accomplished. The site doesn't seem to have changed very much in the past three years, seriously.

- Same listing forms??
- Same lousy editing process??
- Same feature free forum??
- Same poor search pages??
- Same silly little flash widgets??

They've kept up with traffic, added some useless twidbits and that's about it.

Brass Monkey Designs said...

Ya know...I really like the idea of sending Maria a cogent, non-hostile letter that fills her in on all that we feel is being mismanaged with Etsy.

I am going to draft one today. I think every single person who has ever written here needs to do that too. One person writing a letter is just a complainer. Many people writing a letter, outlining the same issue, then maybe someone will listen.

Bookman said...

My boss is 300 miles away and she has no problem keeping track of what I'm doing or letting me know what needs to be done. We use this thing called the internet, and also a "telephone." Sometimes we get fancy and get several people on the internet or the "telephone" at the same time so we can all cooperate.

Non-issue.

As for improvements since Maria has been in charge, five things come to mind:

- A googlebase-friendly RSS feed. I started a thread on this that attracted hundreds of posts in support of the idea. Now there is one.

- A sticky admin section in the forums - this, too, has been something people have been clamoring for.

- Google analytics - 'nuff sed.

- Open API - despite some of the more ignorant screechers yelling that this is another evil plot by Etsy, this is going to be a huge benefit. Yeah, you might have to download a program or visit another website, but so the F what? If the complaint is that you might have to leave Etsy once in a while, maybe you should get out more.

- An open source search engine platform - This one is invisible for now, but this is potentially huge. Etsy rapidly got too big for its klunky old search engine to handle, making it nearly impossible to change anything. This is a major philosophy shift moving to an open source platform that thousands of people are already working on and improving.

Megan McGory said...

Artfire for the win. They just keep showing how Etsy SHOULD HAVE and SHOULD BE doing things. God I love that place even though I have 138 sold items on Etsy and only 1 on artfire.

I'm so glad I'm almost gone from this shithole! I lost all hope for Etsy and every time I renew something I tell myself this is the last time for this item, after this it's artfire or bust!

FUCK YOU ETSY I'M SO DONE!

Christy said...

i love you etsy bitch

Girl, Annoyed said...

It's really no surprise that ETSY isn't doing more, as it appears to be run by people who couldn't pass a 2nd grade geography test.

If you look at the newly released results from the International Sellers Survey

...look at the first chart showing International Sellers by Region.

6.4% are from the Americas.
25.9% are from Canada.

I wonder if someone should explain to them that Canada is in fact part of North America.

So when you say, "Americas" as in North, Central, South...that includes Canada.

The Righteous One said...

Bookman, the general atmosphere of Etsy and it's ability to communicate hasn't changed. Despite little improvements here and there (which all were launched with bugs, despite 'beta' testing!) it's still the same shit heap.

Also, Etsy is too inept to have figured out conference calls and corporate meetings with ALL employees. There is no hierarchy below Maria, she is directly above all 60 damn employees. They have those clunky virtual labs and work everything off flash - I highly doubt they are able to be managed from a distance successfully.

Maria isn't running the company so much as advising them to prep the structure for something else (buyout perhaps). A good CEO (not a boss, but the person who runs the whole thing) is there in the midst of everything on a daily basis. With such a small company, she should be the go-to person for everything. I can't imagine any viable business that requires a phone call or email any time a question arises or problem occurs because the CEO is 5 hours away.

Huh! said...

Good point Girl, Annoyed. Isn't The UK is also a part of a Europe? Why does it get its own slice of the pie?

HeadShaker said...

Etsy was a one off card trick. I hate to say it but I think their perennial youth is a strike against them. The bulge in the population is in the mid to late forties. And guess who in the family sucks up most computer time? Yup, 45 year old mommies. And who has the money to spend? Not the college students that Etsy focuses all their marketing at.

forum rubbernecker said...

Etsy was a one off card trick. I hate to say it but I think their perennial youth is a strike against them. The bulge in the population is in the mid to late forties. And guess who in the family sucks up most computer time? Yup, 45 year old mommies. And who has the money to spend? Not the college students that Etsy focuses all their marketing at.
__________
Once I suggested in the forums that Etsy might want to aim a little older since it's more likely someone over 35 is going to have more money. Some moron commented that "teens and college students are a big demographic and have money because their parents give it to them". My parents used to give me laundry money, which I promptly spent on beer.
And with a quick check of Etsy's categories, this is what's currently for sale:

Children: 172470 items

Housewares: 94418 items

3173 results for hoodie
2567 results for fingerless gloves
2196 results for neckwarmer not scarf
545 results for legwarmers

Which tells me that while Etsy thinks they're hip, and they may have started out that way, their narrow focus on "trendy" ignores what is actually being sold on their site and who is selling it. There is obviously a HUGE number of sellers who don't fit the demographic of who actually works there. And judging from my customers, my customers aren't who Etsy thinks ought to be buying either!

TooOld said...

HeadShaker said...
Etsy was a one off card trick. I hate to say it but I think their perennial youth is a strike against them. The bulge in the population is in the mid to late forties. And guess who in the family sucks up most computer time? Yup, 45 year old mommies. And who has the money to spend? Not the college students that Etsy focuses all their marketing at.

YES!! I have been saying this since Day One. The Youth Market is interested in deals for the most part, because they are on the low end of the salary scale and lack experience with a wide range of quality handmade.
I'm a Boomer, I spend $$ on myself and for gifts, and the FP etc etc turns me off big time. If I weren't a seller here, I would have passed by Etsy long ago because of the corny youth-oriented FP and themes.

sillygirl said...

It's just business as usual at Etsy. Not much to even bitch about these days, since nothing changes...

I think we should all follow danielle on flicker to annoy the shit out of her.

Heather said...

HeadShaker said...
Etsy was a one off card trick. I hate to say it but I think their perennial youth is a strike against them. The bulge in the population is in the mid to late forties. And guess who in the family sucks up most computer time? Yup, 45 year old mommies. And who has the money to spend? Not the college students that Etsy focuses all their marketing at.
___________________________________
Count me in as another one who has also been saying this from the beginning. Who has money? I don't know...me, and friends of mine...stay at home moms (or working moms) in and around our 40's who value hand made and want to stay away from big box stores. And we'll spend more to support "the little guy". Why etsy doesn't advertise to us...except for the idea that "'old' people aren't cool"...I don't know. GenX'ers and Boomers are where the money is at now.

Bookman said...

There are many ways to run a company effectively. My boss doesn't know how to do my job and she's smart enough not to try. She doesn't need to be in the room or called every time I need to make a decision. She makes me accountable and makes me report to her.

Which is something that did not happen at Etsy prior to Maria's arrival. Nobody was really accountable to any one person - everyone was doing their own thing and it got them into a mess where they had a huge job on their plate and no effective organization to tackle it.

I would argue that a good boss - the best bosses I have ever worked for, anyway - are NOT in the middle of everything. That doesn't mean they aren't aware of everything and in control of the company.

myself said...

I'm probably younger than many (or most) of the people running etsy, and even I realize that it isn't 17 year old hipsters buying all those children's goods.

It seems like they think they've got a perpetual money-making machine that can't run it into the dirt. Hire nine more people, hire your bff, hire your neighbors dog, and then do nothing to help the service.

Howard Snidbiscuits said...

I've noticed people in some other businesses do that - try to cater to people their age, while the point of the business is to make money, and definitely, it's the 42 year old women with all the money, not 19 year old hippies.

I agree that they don't seem to realize who their customers are.

One, they put way too much power in the hands of the 'Lab' girls. It seems like Anda, Danielle, Allison etc. had full power to put anything they wanted on the front page, the Stroque, Featured Seller, etc. They have promoted what 26 year old girls in Brooklyn like with seemingly no clue at all that there is the rest of the world out there.

It's apparent that the business used to be run the way Bookman describes. It was an awful vacuum of management... sorry, but Kalin, Dork, et. al seemed to be complete idiots. Well, incompetent at management, anyway.

The strange thing is, where were their investors? Why were the people on the board not saying 'Hey, um... we can't run this business like a bunch of fruity headed nitwits with no experience, we've invested millions of dollars here: how about we actually have realistic management?'

Brass Monkey Designs said...

it's the 42 year old women with all the money, not 19 year old hippies.
=======================

Yessiree....I'm 44 and I have plenty of money to spend and have bought a LOT of things at Etsy, but not a single Blythe doll outfit or pair plastic waffle sunglasses or leg warmers (wearing them in the eighties was more than enough for me).

Today I did a show at a conference for educators and quite a few of them knew about Etsy...not a one of them who did was under 40.

The older demographic is certainly something they should be taking quite seriously in ways other than some random storque article about "grandmas and grandpas."

the long haranger said...

"2008 marked a transition year at Etsy: two of Etsy’s founders moved on, and Rob Kalin moved from the CEO role to that of Chief Creative Officer (CCO). "

Haim and Chris did not move on, they were thrown out the window. And while the Chief Cupcake Officer still draws a salary, he hasn't done anything in six months. Of course, he did little before Maria came to kick butt and take names.

joey the squid said...

I had a spat with my friend when Maria, corporate whats his name, oh Jim Breyer came around - she insisted they were turning over a new leaf, and that I was nasty and pessimistic.. I insisted they were still going to be the same as ever.

Well, guess who was right!

Even their new employees somehow seem to be the same mix of mediocre, half ass, incompetent, etc. and somehow even have the same attitudes as all the old fuckwits.

it IS better to be rid of Revolving Dick, K Farrell, Kalin and all the other weiners who used to go around insulting everyones intelligence on the forums while rolling out incompetent heaps of dung like Alchemy. However, Etsy still is the same. I can't figure out why, exactly.