Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rokali & EB: The Interview

Hey everyone. We deeply apologize in the time it took to get this to everyone. Righteous was kind enough to spend time tonight to get r done.

Here it is....

EB: How are you guys going to improve your customer service?

Rokali: Yeah, that’s really important to me too and something I think we’ve done at best a good job with so far, and that’s at best, so there’s a lot of room to improve. Offering phone support is a huge one. And so we actually have three little phone booths here, I’m in one of them right now and we’re setting them up so you know we’re setting up the calling system and we’re hiring a couple people who have experience with that. We have a couple people here who have experience with that so phone support to me is gonna, in terms of the responsiveness of support, trump everything. We’re experimenting, this happened while I wasn’t here, they started using a system called Right Now which helps with issue tracking and things like that. I mean the other side of it is Etsy members help each other more than we help Etsy probably. You know the way that, it’s with different sets of issues, but the people in the forums helping each other is a huge help for us so being able to facilitate that better would..

EB: Yeah that’s true, but when you have a billing issue or there’s something…

Rokali: Oh, sure, yeah for private issues, yeah that’s…

EB: …a billing issue and all you’re getting is the form letter back or you have someone who is, like happened last week, somebody bought out somebody’s entire shop and plastered them with nasty, just completely nasty retaliatory feedback for, which nobody really has any clue why…

Rokali: Right, so that’s also pointing to the feedback system not working the way it needs to. There’s a lot of stuff, I mean you know in my year away from Etsy I got to take a good long look at it from a distance too and you know it’s, it’s clunky and there’s a lot of stuff that just doesn’t work like the way it should, and that’s not just the feedback system being not designed properly. It’s the fact that we, you know, we don’t have enough systems in place to catch that type of behavior like an entire shop being bought out and then a lot of negative feedback being left in a short time period. You know we can write software that flags that. Again, people are probably going to be able to flag it faster than we can. But you know having someone on call to deal with that. People at Etsy here are, you know, we’re always around, so, you know, we have an internal IRC chat room, and there’s a customer support on-call list and people have pagers, although it’s not technically pagers anymore so I mean there’s a system inside Etsy to deal with this stuff it’s just going to be a matter of ramping it up and offering phone support.

Summary of further discussion: After discussing with Rokali specific instances of a lack of support, including an inability to contact admin through the Etsy system and having to resort to Twittering a forum moderator about privacy issues in forum threads to get offending threads fixed or closed, Rokali said that 24-hr phone support would not be immediate or the first implementation. He emphasizes that it will be a gradual ramp-up of the support system to that aim because he admits that, in some instances, a “red phone for emergencies” is beneficial and that it’s a responsibility Etsy needs to embrace as a priority.

EB: What are we going to do about the supposed, whether real or imaginary, favoritism?

Rokali: Yeah, we’ve talked a lot about that internally and so I think some of the favoritism that people see is a natural result of constrained resources and doing things wrong. And I’ll explain that. So the constrained resources are if we have 2 or 3 here curating the home page from a limited pool of treasury lists made by a limited pool of people the same stuff is going to keep popping up over and over again. That I don’t think is the right system to be curating the home page in the first place….so I don’t want to be doing that at all.


After explaining front page bingo to Rokali and how some choose favorites for their treasuries simply to end up on the front page (transcription not done to avoid mentioning names given as examples), he elaborated on the changes planned for both front page curation and treasuries.

Rokali: We’re actually building tools now to start keeping track of all that stuff [number of times a seller is featured in a given period]. And we’re also rebuilding the treasury from the ground up, not in flash, so that there can be thousands of treasury lists to curate from. And then the way they get picked for the home page, we’re gonna try, I want to minimize admin involvement with that. So we’re playing with some different ideas.


We did ask him about Etsy employee conflicts of interest. He said he was previously unaware of DanielleXOs gift impropriety on Twitter. Also, he has no plans to change admin’s abilities to have stores because he feels it helps them understand what sellers experience, but he’s going to discuss internally account disclosure, admin shop promotion, and inappropriate personal/business interactions with sellers.

We had a good discussion with Rokali about the semblance of professionalism of admin and disciplinary response hierarchy. It was mostly him listening to concerns we’ve heard from other Etsians so that he could integrate them into later internal discussions and procedures. This first discussion on these issues was the beginning of helping him understand our point of view and what those outside of Etsy see and experience. It appears that some of these issues will be addressed when the customer services changes are implemented (form letter and slow responses be gone).

EB: What tools do you want to see happen at Etsy, seller tools for us to use, to create an easier experience for us as sellers?

Rokali: Good question. I’ll answer it two ways. First is, I think, what we’ve just been talking about, one of the most important tools we need to help sellers is the right internal content management system and customer support system. So that’s something that we’re looking at. The system we have now is two different systems and they’re not integrated and it’s nowhere near good enough. There’s not enough people using it and they don’t have enough time and so it puts this time constraint on people having to deal with stuff. And I think that’s leading to some of the issues. I’m not making an excuse for why it’s all happening [seller problems with admin communication] but that’s definitely not working well enough. In terms of seller tools, wow, where to start. First, one thing would be having an API with proper authentication. Like, if you guys use Twitter, you know that there are like a thousand applications out there you can use to post to Twitter. And on eBay even, other companies, outside companies, have built desktop applications for managing inventory on eBay. There’s a company called ChannelAdvisor, and so if you look, all of these seller tools are empowered by eBay having a robust enough API with authentication to support this kind of stuff being built. So I think one of the most helpful things we can do for sellers is to just get that done, which is being worked on right now. Then the other stuff are the features that we would actually make into the site itself. Which I can talk about too.

EB: API is nice, but the fact is that most of your sellers are going to use your site, and most of the tools they want are not really overly complicated and a lot of your competitors have already beaten you to the punch months ago.

Rokali: If not years ago. What are some of the tools that you…can you name some?

EB: There’s seller notes, there’s global editor, etsy importer, coupon, automatic posting to (facebook and twitter), tweet my listings automatically, Google upload my listings automatically, gift certificates, sale mode, vacation mode and vacation mode where you get the choice to leave your stuff up for sale but people get a message saying you’re gone and you get a couple different ways on that. The global editor is really pretty amazing, you can change the prices, change the discount, add a promo label you know like free shipping or something that sticks on top of your picture. If you really want to see what you’re up against go get a little account over at (competitor) and pay the whatever it is now…for a month and see all the features they’ve got. They’ve really, while you guys have been sleeping the last year, essentially, I know you guys have been doing things, but you haven’t been doing the things that the sellers have been wanting. You know, you did give them rearrange pictures, they like that. But there are so many other things. Even… 1000Markets has some tools that Etsy isn’t even anywhere close to getting on. And the thing is, the sad part is, they’re things that people have been asking for on Etsy in the forums for, some of them for, 4 years?

Rokali: Yeah, sure, I mean it, I don’t enjoy having to see those requests over and over anymore than you guys enjoy not having the tools. I was, I mean that was one of the growing pains with Etsy too was, you know we, we hit these issues, I don’t know, about 3 years ago. I don’t know if you guys remember, the V2 ridiculousness…So that was this issue of adding new features versus keeping the site up and then that was a wall that we hit as a company. And I think we’re probably just now fully recovering from that. And that’s why I’m really excited to be back cause I want to show what we can do with this incredible engineering team that we have. And so, yeah, we have a lot to live up to and it’s one of those things where I can talk on and on about this but the only thing that’s really going to matter here is getting you guys the tools and so that’s what I’m here to do.


In further discussion about the dragging amount of time Etsy seems to take to roll out anything, Rokali elaborated that they are actively attempting to adjust this system by avoiding large sitewide code changes that have disrupted the site in the past and by gradually tweaking the site code to keep up with planned changes as well as working on major changes to build into the site. There will be a team of about 5 people working on seller tools. This list will be published so members can contact and interact with them directly. He doesn’t feel Etsy is transparent enough at the moment in regards to who is working on what site features. He also said that one of the top three projects for Etsy right now is giving Teams the tools they’ve needed for 5 years and haven’t gotten yet, which included discussion of groups/forums.

We told Rokali that Etsy needs a dedicated moderator for the Bugs forum and Ideas forum, one that actually provides feedback about what’s going on. Rokali said there is currently someone who monitors the Bugs forum, but he couldn’t remember who it was off the top of his head but will find out and discuss with them better responses with the community. We discussed the concept of a new form of bug tracking (an application or contact form) within Etsy.

EB: What are your ideas on changing the front page, we had briefly touched on that, but what would you like to see happen to the front page. What’s your vision?

Rokali: So, there’s, I mean from a product perspective, we’re about to make a simple change where you’ll be able to stay logged in for a full day without having to log back in all the time and we’re going to work on extending that. Once we split off the more secure things, like changing your password and looking at your bill will require you to re-authenticate, but otherwise you can be cookied for a couple weeks. So once we do that, I think something like, so if we know who you are more often when you come to the home page, something like an activity feed. So showing you, similar to, if you use Flickr, this person commented, this person favorited this, this item sold. So at the very least you can get an activity feed there. As far as the other content, the curated content, on the home page, I’d like that to be much more personalized. Again I don’t want it to be a couple admin at Etsy deciding what goes in Etsy’s home page. I think we should be building software that is, I don’t know, there’s a couple different ways to do it. You know, one would be we could use personalization algorithms to get a sense of what you’re interested in, similar to how Netflix recommends movies to you and then recommend treasury lists to you by showing them on the home page. Things like that, so the general direction I want to go in there is less of a monoculture more personalized. So that’s the system we’re gonna focus on building. And again, we should be building software that empowers other people to curate their own home page, we shouldn’t be curating their home page for them. That’s my general approach.

We discussed the problem of items being removed from shops before payment is received and Rokali said that they are running beta tests of two different ways for Etsy to implement Paypal that will eliminate the issue for items purchased with Paypal. We also discussed approaches to delayed feedback to avoid immediate retaliatory feedback for items that aren’t really purchased. There is nothing definite planned at this time. They are working on an integrated flag system to avoid admin from featuring items or sellers that have been flagged until the flag is resolved as a way to avoid featuring resellers in the Storque.

We made sure that he was aware of the collective problems with a certain admin starting with D, so we’ll see how they go internally with that. That’s the best we could do. We’re not in control of Etsy. If we were, she woulda been canned after the reign of forum terror. He was diplomatic and silent, listening, but not commenting. We also made him aware of willy nilly forum thread closure by a certain forum moderator. Again, silent and listening. He did suggest instituting non-solo moderation to help clear up some issues with admin behavior and mistakes.

EB: What is going to be done about the Etsy brand? Right now the way that, and I totally get that the Indie thing is hot right now, but for the average person who has money…doesn’t like being stuck with this kitschy do-it-yourself and indie label. I mean is there going to be something more inclusive coming? I know the tagline is changing.

Rokali: It hasn’t changed yet, but yeah, I think the owls, cowls, and moustache problem will be addressed with the, what we were talking about, with how the home pages are gonna be, the content is going to be curated in a different way. It’s not going to be admin’s curating it…On the outside it can look a lot more deliberate than it is. I think, right now, it’s unfortunate for sure. It’s a side effect of having too few people using not good enough tools to do something. So being able to personalize that content would mean that people are going to get views into the site as they want to see it. And we have a larger issue with that as we try to internationalize, right, because it’s not just, I mean at least another person in another state in the United States is speaking the same language. We’re going to have issues with what’s called localization. Not just across content, but across different languages. So that’s something we’re really thinking about now for sure….There should never be one aesthetic ruling the site. That to me is the wrong way to do it.

EB: How are you guys going to handle marketing now? I know you guys are about viral marketing, word of mouth, grassroots, and now it seems we’ve kind of reached our limit with what we can do as sellers. We’re out there in the community, we’re pushing Etsy, and there’s never been a doubt that a lot of the sellers boast about Etsy at almost every craft show that they go to. It seems that now we’ve reached the end of that and it’s time to go larger. (interjection : TV commercials?) Are you guys planning to do anything a little bit larger?

Rokali: Yeah, for sure. I mean, first, I can speak off the cuff about this but we haven’t made any conclusions about that stuff. TV commercials I’d have to see a lot of data and would take some convincing to do a TV commercial because you can’t click on a TV commercial, and there are plenty of stories of internet companies spending a lot of money on TV commercials and going out of business a year later.


We mentioned seeing ads for CafePress on late night network TV.

Rokali: Yeah, so, the other part with that would be, let’s say we want to get the message out there and if we’re going to do it on TV we can either go on TV as part of some programming or we could put an ad on in between programming. Just from looking at Etsy’s own past, if we buy, we’ve bought ads on websites where we’ve had articles run on us on that site. And the articles generate dozens of times more traffic than the ads do. I mean it could just be the quality of the ads, but the discrepancies are huge. [interjection: people don’t click on ads in magazines either ] Right so, Etsy has had pretty good press. We were just in Reader’s Digest, if you wanted to buy an ad in Reader’s, so one approach there would be, Etsy has a pretty good story and sellers on Etsy have such great stories and if we can empower that, I think in some ways that can get us a lot more ink than we could ever get trying to get ads. And Etsy does get a lot of press in that respect. And I’m not saying we’re going to do that in lieu of marketing but I’m saying there’s a lot of that that’s working.


We discussed the style and placement of current magazine press and how Etsy could follow stories on individual Etsy shops with a real Etsy ad in order to bolster the advertising potential of the free press. As well as advertising in new venues, outside of the standard “get new seller” craft mags. He was receptive to ideas. Etsy has tried Google ads in the past year, but spent a lot for few clicks and had poor conversion. They are currently working on a strategy for the next year. However, any new, large advertising push will be prioritized to occur after the site has been fixed.

Addressing drops in sales, Rokali said that the buyer to seller ratio is increasing, but if the number of items is increasing faster, the number sold per seller will drop. So he chalks up the drops to marketplace dynamics. He’s hoping that personalization and new ways of sorting search results will help keep buyers interesting. But it will take a lot of planning and interaction with the community because it could drastically change the marketplace dynamics even further. He’s also hoping to setup something similar to Gmail labs, where members can turn on features being tested, a way to integrate Etsyhacks into the site.

We did ask about the role of the Community Council, but Rokali was not part of the implementation of the first sessions and is only starting to get up to speed with the plans for the second incarnation. He agreed though that until the changes actually occur, it’s lip service. A lot has been said and little has been done, but he’s aware of it.

He elaborated on “people over products”. What he meant is no more retail site stuff like gift guides and weekend sales emails. For him it’s about the marketplace and the people who sell the items, so the focus is shifting to customer service and seller tools.

He’s left the door open for further discussions.

95 Comments:

WindysDesigns said...

No offense, and maybe it's late so I will re-read it tomorrow, but I sure didn't see anything concrete, just a lot of him agreeing things aren't perfect and they plan to work on a bunch of things.

While I appreciate his willingness to talk to you, I didn't feel like I really learned anymore than what I already knew from his previous installment posts. Nothing about resellers, other than if a shop is flagged as one they won't make it to the front page, but nothing about what will be done to get them off the site.

Maybe I'll get more out if it after a second read, but I found it pretty uninformative and blah.

The Cranky One said...

Well to be fair, some did come out in the wash but it was over an hour and a half of interview, we didn't transcribe it all as it would be REALLY long o read so we summed up a lot.

I was one of the Two EB in the interview.

We did get lots of flat out copping to failures and bad execution on etsy, sure some of it we've heard before, but what did you really expect? We were just impressed we got any sort of honest sounding answers at all. We certainly didnt expect it to go as friendly as it did. (YES, WE WERE FRIENDLY AS HELL!, We didn't go in with pitchforks looking to make someone pay).

We were hoping that this might lead to more int he future so for a first interview I like to think we made a good impression each other so that might actually happen.

Was there some glossing over? Sure, he's a CEO, he knows all about talking points and what people want to hear. We were lucky to be granted this interview so we played down our foul mouthed stabby natures.

And, don't be deceived by the summaries - we had more than little to say about DXO, staff impropriety and ethics, how to fix he evil that is the goddamn forums and most other things.

eclipse said...

Was anything said about the huge problem of resellers and the ineffectiveness of flagging and utter cluelessness of the content team? It seems this problem is only getting worse, there are f*cking Glade candles and Avon lipgloss that have been listed for MONTHS and I know they have been flagged by a ton of people.

I hearted it when I flagged it (just as a bookmarking tool, I actually LOATHE it) and every time I look at my favorites it is STILL THERE, and it's way back on like page 5 by now.
Any day now it's going to be on the front page or in the Storque.

The Funny One said...

re favoritism: at least he admitted that only 2-3 employees pick most of the items for promos, including the FP, which has been clear to all for over 16 months, now so blatant that even shoppers notice the favoritism and limited design choices.

The interview may reveal the motivation behind some of the recent site changes made without any notice to sellers (e.g. convos) but it's only a guessing game between the CEO and sellers.

It's also apparent that it's a guessing game right within Etsy, where the CTO clearly is not talking to the current Forum Moderator and several employees continue to post public comments without any mgmt review.

The disorganization amongst the paid people is more evident every day.

With no action plan and no implementation dates, it's all a bunch of hot air, heavily scented by overblown egos.

Funny, but 3 other sites where I sell well send out a monthly e-newsletter to me, detailing their Action Plan and Implementation Dates. And then they do it.

They DO NOT post contradictory, novel-length edicts with 5 links to 50 pages of blog posts that are pages 400-450 of a "handbook" that gets more ridiculous the more they pad it with fluffer-nothing.

Hot air. And these days in Brooklyn, hope it cuts down on their monthly office heating bills.

FantasyClay said...

What I heard from Rob is nothing and lot of deflection. when asked about seller tools, he brought up tools that were available through third parties, "limited tools" were an excuse for so many admin issues like favoritism, a lot of nothing.

He doesn't know who handles the bug forum? The company has 50 employees, I just worked at company that size. I started off-site as helpdesk. When I went into the office the CEO/owner knew me and what I did. Handling bug forum is crucial, Rob doesn't know does it??? He says etsy team is about people why doesn't he know his own people.

He says nothing when asked about what other selling have done(Artfire) in a short time, he again avoids answering. This site has been used as an example as what not to do.

No actual answers, nothing. I hate to say but sounds like Obama- promising "change" and a year later blaming others because nothing has happened.

Etsy needs to get their act together quickly, they seriously need a CEO who knows how to run a business, can manage a team and knows e-commerce. Neither Maria or Rob had any of those qualities. This is just same story, different day.

zizzybob said...

Oh Yeah, like, ya know, for sure, ya know? How old is this guy?

helen said...

I haven't paid attention to any community or admin aspect of Etsy in well over a year, but he certainly sounds very different to when he left. Way more receptive to criticisms, and to ideas that aren't his own. Have to give credit for that, and I hope it translates into a lot of action AND effective + timely solutions.
I think it's great you had such a constructive discussion/interview and that the door is open for more.
Thanks.

wantstobehopeful said...

I wonder if the 2 or 3 people who choose the FP are the same people who choose the featured sellers. They choose variations on the same stuff constantly. And they also have a knack for choosing sellers who have notoriously copied other sellers. I would love to see more research done when choosing a featured seller... like how long have they have been making their work and if there is anyone else on Etsy who has been doing it longer. I can't tell you how discouraging it has been to watch different sellers featured who have blatantly copied the work of others. And they get rewarded for it! Meanwhile the ones who originated the work remain overlooked. Very discouraging.

SSDD said...

I've been just waiting for this, and now I have to agree with some others:
uninformative, blah, and hot air.

Sorry but to me as a seller, it sounds like yet again the focus is on other things.
"3 little phone booths"??? "experimenting"?? WTF, phone support has been done for decades, it's not that difficult.


"People at Etsy here are, you know, we’re always around, so, you know, we have an internal IRC chat room, and there’s a customer support on-call list and people have pagers, although it’s not technically pagers anymore so I mean there’s a system inside Etsy to deal with this stuff it’s just going to be a matter of ramping it up and offering phone support."

I would be completely embarassed to admit a company I was the head of didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground. Seriously.


"He emphasizes that it will be a gradual ramp-up of the support system to that aim because he admits that, in some instances, a “red phone for emergencies” is beneficial and that it’s a responsibility Etsy needs to embrace as a priority."

Duh.

As IF he didn't know what fp bingo was. Please. And how can he not know of the DXO gift scandal and other scandals. Are we to believe he doesn't read EB?? It's all right here for him.

So- in other words, it was a choice between keeping the site up or adding imperative seller features? What about all that other piddly bullshit added? (GG button in shops for example) Was that to keep the engineers busy while someone figured out how to fix "the wall"??

"He also said that one of the top three projects for Etsy right now is giving Teams the tools they’ve needed for 5 years and haven’t gotten yet, which included discussion of groups/forums."

Huh? Teams at HQ or teams of sellers? I don't give a shit about teams when there isn't a coupon code or different shipping options or a search that sucks.

And he's still stuck on having the fp and other features cookied per user so what they like shows up??? That is the antithesis of indie. How do you know you want it if you never see it??

No commercials?? How can you watch TV and not know what Bing is? Even Ebay did commercials and people remember them to this day. What about etrade (with the talking baby)? These are well known internet businesses that used TV to their HUGE advantage. Sorry Rokali, a Readers's Digest article does not = a TV ad.

I say bah humbug.

FantasyClay said...

I didn't even realize Reader's Digest even still existed. Who reads it anyway?

Phone support is not that difficult. Even the smallest companies can do it, even if it's just person for now- just go put up the number, assign one person to answer the f'ing phone. Bingo you got phone support. At least it's a voice. Phone booths? Are they too cheap to buy phones for their office. Lord

SO TIRED. . . . said...

Is Rokali able to speak in full sentences? That say something? Give straight answers?

The Sneaky One said...

Thank you everyone! This is the feedback that we were hoping for!

He did say that talk is cheap and that he knows he actually has to do what he promises to rebuild the trust.

I was the other one in the interview.

We were hoping to hear feedback like this once it was posted. Honest feedback. Stuff he can take home with him. :)

monkeybuttpowder said...

Rokali: It hasn’t changed yet, but yeah, I think the owls, cowls, and moustache problem will be addressed with the, what we were talking about, with how the home pages are gonna be, the content is going to be curated in a different way.
----------

did he uh, like, you know, smoke a schload of, of you know, grade a primo dope and stuff, before like, giving this interview?
because you know, and sometimes, like what we said, things come out sounding really bad but when you meant to say something else, right? for sure.
fuckin word, man.

perhaps it's more like he knows a guy who dates this girl who used to be related to a guy who does tech support for facebook and she said that he said that sometimes things get like totally fucked, and so like, the engineers and stuff, like have to work, you know really hard and stuff to fix it. and then, sometimes it doesn't work you know, but like facebook gives out really good cash bonuses to their engineers and so it's a totally cool company to work for.....

it's all sound and fury signifying nothing.

trusk4u said...

zizzybob said...
Oh Yeah, like, ya know, for sure, ya know? How old is this guy?



No kidding! He comes across like a gradeschool kid, NOT a CEO! Frankly, I found it difficult to read.

WindysDesigns said...

Cranky, who was the other EB who interviewed Rob?

I reread it again this morning and after reading Cranky's response I just have to shake my head.

What did we really expect? I can't say for anyone but myself, what we got was exactly what I expected. NOthing. I don't know why that surprises me.

You didn't expect friendliness or any honest 'sounding' answers? It's Rob's job to do that. Even if he hated your guts, he knows enough not to show it. Can you imagine the field day any interviewer would have if Rob came off nasty?

As far as future interviews, while I know you think of this as a feather in your cap, and journalistically maybe it is, I wouldn't really expect any future interviews to be any more informative than this one. And let's face it, most of us would really like something to chew on for a change.

As far as being lucky to be granted the interview, maybe. But I don't doubt for a moment that this wasn't a calculated move on his part.

And lest I sound like a complete downer, I'm not critical of EB, or Rob for that matter. I know he isn't about to reveal anything he doesn't want to, no matter who is conducting the interview. I'm just annoyed at myself for thinking that maybe you guys would get something 'new' out of him.

Eveline said...

I'm with WindysDesigns, it's another lot of 'we hear you, it's in the pipeline, it's on our radar' BS...

Question is, will this interview be in the Storque this week? I doubt it...

nobigdeal said...

I was a European member of the first Community Council. I missed a few meetings becasue the time difference. We did nothing but say the problems you all say. Rob White now asks again what are the probelms. People say the same thing. Etsy can read. Don't get excited about the Community Council. They can do nothing. Etsy does what it wants.

sark said...

The same seller was featured in 2 treasuries back to back on the same day. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't see slinkymalinkicat on the front page. 'Seems to have an ENDLESS supply of "vintage' prints. 'Not the only vintage seller, and not an actual artist.

Same people making the treasuries that make the front page. A week doesn't go by without an ozetta treasury. Every ozetta treasury features front page repeats.

Artmind is the elementalclaystudios of this three month period, apparently. Not the only person doing ceramics.

I recently made a treasury, for the first time in ages. And after I made my treasury I looked at 20 consecutive treasuries. I didn't see the same people featured in each.

It's not a matter of the treasury system or some of the curators being flawed. The problem is etsy staff.

Any moron can go to craftopolis and type in their faves (or those boring ass front page repeats) and find all 9 of the Lirola featuring treasuries.
Every time I see the same stale crap by the same people on the front page, that some lazy ass etsy employee types their faves into craftopolis and features those treasuries is the only thing that comes to mind.

Fire the 2-3 people currently curating the FP, or reassign them. Or, better yet, make them do paperwork like the rest of us in the real world: keep a log of who gets featured, who made the treasuries, and who decided that should be on the FP. Make them accountable for a system that does not involve repeats.

I shouldn't see slinkymalinkicat on the front page EVERY GOD DAMNED DAY. There are actual artists on etsy, feature more than a handful of them.

And seriously, fire your FP curators, they are inept, tactless, classless, and derivative... and lazy, and unimaginative, and just generally a mountain of suck.

Seriously, a mountain of suck.

The idea that a handful of people are featured every day, or several times a week is unacceptable with a site with that many sellers. That is just inept and incompetent.

Sigh... said...

re favoritism: at least he admitted that only 2-3 employees pick most of the items for promos, including the FP, which has been clear to all for over 16 months, now so blatant that even shoppers notice the favoritism and limited design choices.
_________

Well, now, that is quite different from what admin (pretty sure it was marymary) said in the forums recently. She said "several different staff pick what they like throughout the day", which sort of made me think that one FP is picked by whathisname in engineering, the next one by whatshername in accounting--in other words, FPs are picked by ALL staff. But if it's just a few, this explains a whole lot.
Several is not two or three.

mamaslittlemonkeys said...

Perhaps I was drunk when I read this, but I was so confused by much of his statements I gave up on reading the rest of it. No, I wasn't drunk while reading it but felt like I HAD been!

Someone hire that man for congress because he is a pro at talking in circles.

The Sneaky One said...

Thank you! Keep it coming! He reads here frequently and needs to see the response. Unless you are trolling, we won't censor you.

Windys, as I said above, I was the other one in the interview. I actually asked the questions.

Yep said...

Actually, several can definitely mean 2 or 3. But whatever. It's more fun to bitch.

asimplequestion said...

I actually have a day job and don't have time, but while Rob wasn't working for a year didn't he have time to see the same problems in the forums day after day.
Sellers simply asking for tools to run their shops and help when something goes wrong. Actually they asked when he was here the first time.

And yet, Teen Angster still gets paid to tweet all day about her favs that never, ever sell.

Resellers multiply hourly.

The Righteous One said...

I think the main points we can take from the interview are some of the solid plans he mentioned.

-There will be some phone support instituted and the form letters will become less vague
-Street teams will get tools
-No major at once site code overhauls that break it down like before (well, the dopple analytics already kind of showed that one to not hold up)
-Front page personalization (however, what the new buyers entering the site will see is still not known, but he already got rid of the GGs and weekend deals)
-More communication with the community about changes to avoid negative marketplace dynamics

Nothing new, I know, but at least we have it on record now. And we were able to make him aware of issues with specific admin in specific areas, and he can't claim to not know because we have it on record that we told him!

This also lays the groundwork for further discussions with Etsy Corp to help solve the problems that have been plaguing all of us with the site for years.

TooOld said...

Ii applaud EB for being straight, respectful, and diplomatic therefore allowing Rokali to display his utter lack of management ability.
Never mind his speaking 'style', it came off as being uninformed, begging for forgiveness, and empty platitudes.

Thank you for showing off the emperor's clothing.

WindysDesigns said...

Yeah Sneaky, I saw that. I took an inordinate amount of time typing out my thoughts and you had already posted when I hit the enter button. Sorry. And thank you.

FWIW, I have to concur with monkeybuttpowder, his speech was incredibly hard to follow. I just chalked it up to his being one of those whose mind works faster than his mouth and before he can finish one thought he's on to the next. But it sure did sound like someone who was high on something.

I also realize the convo changes came after this interview, but it also came after his installments in the announcement forums and one of the things he said would be addressed was the communication issue. This would have been a perfect opportunity to actually show some 'action' rather than just give lip service, yet, once again same old MO.

He is the consummate politician, tell people what they want to hear but fall short on actually delivering the goods.

Toss out a handful of crumbs and the hungry masses devour it up with such gratefulness and expectation of more, but all that is forthcoming is more crumbs.

As for the 'ramping up', my God, after 4 years that ramp ought to be all the way up to the pearly gates of Heaven by now.

He reminds me of my neighbor with the kick ass motorcycle. Every weekend he pulls that thing out of the garage into the driveway, turns it on and revs it over and over and over again. Every weekend I expect him to jump on the thing and take off. And every weekend, after revving it up to the point where it drives you insane and you wish he would either get on the thing and drive away or it would just blow up already, he turns it off and puts it back in the garage.

I'm sure there is a reason he does this, he might be 'ramping up' for some future race or cross country ride. But for those of us who sit week after week listening to the noise with seemingly no point to it, it becomes annoying and frustrating.

Rob, stop talking and start walking. Stop saying this needs fixing and that needs work and do it. Nobody expects everything to be fixed overnight, but for Pete's sake, there are things like communication that don't require software or coding or a magic formula. And I don't mean circuitous, nonsensical interviews either. This isn't communication, it's propaganda.

helllooo!!!! said...

So, basically 2 CEO's are aware of the same problems for 5 years.

Etsy is making money, so who cares about the sellers. Who cares if the smaller sites have good tools. We'll just bring new sellers to etsy.

"Talk" is the cheapest thing any CEO has in his/her bag of tricks.

It's so sad to see the newbies in the forum saying Rob gets us, he sees what we need.

Of course he does, it's just not going to be implemented. The same people will work there and collect a check with no supervision, and the same people will always get featured. It's Business 101.

In a nutshell, that's what makes money for etsy.

are you kidding me? said...

Just when I thought that I had seen the height of how out of touch Rob really is regarding the sellers, there's this. My god, man! This is hysterical.

Rob says: "First, one thing would be having an API with proper authentication.".

How did you know? I wake up every morning hoping that this has happened! This is absolutely positively the first thing you should work on. Forget resellers, search problems, paypal bugs, coupon codes, marketing, fraudulent buyers, and feedback abuse. I need more bells and whistles to distract me from running a business on a functioning e-commerce site!

Rob says: "Then the other stuff are the features that we would actually make into the site itself."

Um yeah don't forget that small thing, the site itself.

Geeze man, pick up a copy of CEOs for dummies. A quarter of the issues mentioned specifically in the interview could be handled by the end of business today.

Need a bug mod? Assign one, TODAY

Need phone support? Plug in a phone, TODAY.

Less FP faves? Require admins do their homework and start holding them accountable, TODAY.

Better communication? Require yourself or admins post to the announcement forum 24hrs before all changes, or be held accountable, TODAY

Have some damn standards. If you as CEO aren't comfortable being the hard ass, then hire a manager to do it for you. There is no reason you can't demand competence and still have a fun, happy go lucky, artsy fartsy company. I should know, I run one.

embellisher said...

Suddenly...I feel scared and Maria didn't seem so bad...sigh.

What is absolutely SCARY to me is how oblivious to what's going on he is. Do you mean to tell me that he is not aware of all the tools that other sites have? Is no one keeping a list of shit that makes us enraged?

I don't know what the hell 50 employees are doing in Brooklyn, but coming from a former supervisor, and mom of two boys who think they can get over, I guarantee you I KNEW what the hell my employees were doing. Whether I let them know I knew depended on what it was, but obviously, Rokali has so much to learn that if I were the investors I'd be getting him a co-CEO, or whatever he is.

From the convo snafu to the growing reseller problem (at least to us) it is becoming more apparent that Etsy does not have its priorities straight, and are intent in running an absolutely great idea straight into the ground.

Life During Wartime said...

One thing that stood out was Rob still sees the Etsy community as shouldering the greater burden of helping newbies/answering questions in the forums AND policing the site by flagging. This is horrible. Etsy is no longer small in numbers with the feeling of knowing everyone and having your input count for something. Etsy is big enough to take that burden from the sellers because, quite frankly, sellers need that extra time to list and promote to keep from getting buried on such a disorganized site.

Oh, and BS to that load of rubbish about allowing staff members to have shops! The only shops run by staff should be the ones used for testing site changes.

Did anyone ask Rob about the trends guru, and what Etsy is going to do about him and what his influence has done to the site?

RRobin said...

He should be in politics. His answer to the front page question had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the front page.

Oh, and speaking of the FP, GetReadySetGO is on it AGAIN, right now, as I write this.

They are the ONLY luggage seller on Etsy, right?

Or so Etsy Admin would have us think.

They are certainly the favorite one.

RRobin said...

Quoting WindysDesigns...

"I just chalked it up to his being one of those whose mind works faster than his mouth..."

**

I think you got it backwards. His mouth works much, much faster than his brain, which is why he uses so much verbal filler, like, ya know?

He is not very bright. He has a big ego, probably grew up with parents who told him his shit didn't stink, and had one good idea -- Etsy -- but no real notion of how to see it through and make it work, and is too vain to seek competent help or advice. Surrounding himself with sycophants and morons makes him feel smart. And even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

Our only hope is for a friendly, or even hostile, takeover by Google or Amazon or eBay or some such.

nolongerconfused said...

He's laughing all the way to the bank.

His lack of knowledge about his "people" (employees) and the tools to make the site actually run is astonishing.

No, actually it's completely predictable. Rerun this post in 6 months and you will see that
nothing has changed. Nothing.

PS Loved that insight into the community council from "nobigdeal"

Atlantis said...

If he can't feel like a hipster doing it, he's not going to do it. Not for himself, and not for Etsy.

He has to decide: put skilled professionals in charge of the proper areas for however long it takes to get Etsy on the right track, or never leave his comfort zone and have Etsy go to hell slowly before our eyes -- on his watch.

embellisher said...

Oh, and keeping an eye out on what leaves Etsy to the world (ie Etsy Finds) would be a good place to start paying attention.

The staff is just sooooooo good at spotting resellers, hell, there's about 2-3 in the one I just saw today. Obviously critical thinking, analysis and just plain old reading the listing is not a required part of the job.

Who says they're not vigilant?

Pfft.

Sick Of Games said...

I posted the link to this interview on Etsy, a few did as well. I found out my account was deactivated. They deactivated my seller's account for a nonexistant link in an empty store(I had given up selling there because of the mess but still was shopping there) I could get no answer for the shop closure after I said the link wasn't there. They closed another buyer account with open transaction on it, I wasn't able to get any answer.
Even PD just got muted. If they can deactivate my accounts so quickly(I had 100% fb, as a seller and buyer, all accounts were at different times), why not the resellers?
Do do they just want to push away buyers who post 1 link- several had posted the same link. I give up. I may keep up with what they do but I am washing my hands of that site!

Violets new Vintage said...

So happy to see the interview finally posted, thank you! I make my living by selling my jewelry and paintings. I need tools to do this on Etsy. Out of all the needs the Etsy site has, please pick seller tools and give those to us now. Global editor, in particular. Etsy encourages us to fill our shops up with wonderful items and then makes us plod through them all, one by one, to change the slightest thing. Its like trying to run through deep sand. Please tell Rokali to go to Artfire and check out the sellers tools. That is what we need first. Thank you again for the opportunity to offer my suggestions.

UgaBugaBowls said...

Sorry if this posted twice, I got a 404 when I hit submit last time.

Gack!!! Rob, it's not that hard!!!

Front page problem - set up two picture slots for each section. When you go to the page, the slots are filled randomly with things just listed and an item that's been listed for 25 days. Or maybe select from items that have 5 hearts or more. BOOM! Randomized and those who've had items posted for some time get just as much exposure as the constant relisters. Every time the refresh is hit, new pictures. The code is already written for this so practically no investment, problem solved.

Resellers - yeah right. This is a cash cow so it's never going to be addressed. But seriously, after 5 flags, the item or seller is taken down pending review to happen within 24 hours. Implement a code that captures the IP address of the flaggers so people can only an item or seller once to prevent abuse. If the guys at AfterElton could figure out how to do this for their big gay battle, it can't be all that hard for a multi million dollar company figure out how to do it. And if it's taken down pending review to be put back up, you can't backburner it. It requires immediate action if Etsy wants to see any money from that listing or that seller. Oh boy, motivation to get eyes on those flagged items! Anything that is then approved sends an email to the flaggers stating why the item or seller has been approved for listing. BOOM! Problem solved. And it helps to teach the flaggers what should be flagged and what shouldn't be flagged. Capture the IP addresses so if a dozen items are approved from the same flagger, the flagger is the problem and should be dealt with.

This also makes the relisters less profitable since their stuff is taken down from time to time which will discourage them from being there in the first place!

Actual support - Give every department a phone number. Get some interns to man the phones to help out with standard every day problems and to transfer the more difficult problems to actual knowledgeable people. Be prepared to hire more people to man the phones because as soon as a phone number is made available, you're getting a lot of calls.

Forums - how much time and human resources are devoted to policing the forums? So many threads are shut down for practically no reason. I have to imagine that half the staff is spending their entire day reading the forums looking to shut stuff down. Implement a "report this thread" button and walk away! 25 votes and the thread is closed pending review. Problem solved, and about 20 people can get back to working on other stuff within Etsy!

But do devote 3 people to watch the Bug Reports forum and have them actually respond. "This isn't a bug, you go about doing what you were doing this way. Hope that helps" "Yup, that's a bug, we're working on it and should have it solved in the next 3 hours" "That's new, we haven't heard of that bug before. I've sent it to so and so for review" "Ok, we've reviewed that issue and should have a resolution by Monday"

Companies with far fewer resources have figured out these problems and done them much better. If they can do it, Etsy should be able to do it. Screw the amazon.com type API that customizes the front page for people. That's a good idea but it's a bonus once the site in general is working.

Stop working on the bonuses and get the foundation working!

notenoughbubblewrap said...

Remember the boyfriend who kept apologising and 'knowing' things we wrong?

That's because he felt like if he fed you a load of shit like that, you'd have no reason to yell and, he gets off the hook because he 'feels' bad'.

Rob IS that boyfriend. The IDEA that he would ask about seller tools blows my fucking mind.

He can't read the forum and answer cause it's 'too confusing' so we have to Tweet questions and we have to come here (no offense) to read in hopes of having them answered (they weren't).

Ya know, great, sure, ya know, we are GROWN UPS. Can we please have a grown up CEO?

The Funny One said...

Great comments so far, and shows that sellers have gotten a lot smarter than Etsy has over the last 5 years.

Kalin and the rest of them are passive-aggressives who like hanging out with themselves because they don't have to confront criticism or Etsy-induced anger --- which is the real reason they're putting off phone support for as long as possible.

Actually talk to real sellers? Oh my, that would bust their self-importance bubbles!

Kalin does sound like he has no idea what goes on inside the office every day, but the Admins sound just as clueless in their forum and blog posts, where their off the cuff remarks reveal just how much they don't know.

I'm a little more than worried about a CEO of a $26 million monthly profit company who sees no conflict of interest in allowing Admins to have stores because it "gives them the seller experience" when there is ample proof that Admins know very little about their sellers, and actually don't care.

And Kalin's streams of consciousness about TV advertising? It spells=TOO CHEAP to spend money, despite taking in several millions of dollars a month without much to show for it.

marcelly said...

this reminds me of that old UK tv series, 'The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin'.

Remember when he had built up the hugely successful Grot Empire, then decided to systematically destroy it from the inside, because he was bored with it?

Only the wisest joker in the pack could actually see what he was up to.

Reminds me of that;)

Arizona Skies said...

Rokali, and the rest of them, always answer like politicians, they say a lot but never clearly. I always end up thinking "so, what was the answer?". In other words, his answers never make sense and are never direct.

changes? said...

This interview is not much different than when he popped into the forums. When do the changes start?

How freaking hard is it to stop having admin picked front pages?

Or give us a coupon code. In the time it took to give the interview it could have been done.

As for the flickr reference. John Allspaw who worked for flickr, now works for etsy. Is etsy just going to be a place of social crap or will be be able to sell stuff?

Concerned Etsyian said...

Stands up and applaudes "Are You Kidding Me"s post. I have no doubt you run an extremely successful company.

Rob, please take heed of this excellent advice.

a voice said...

I had a buyer order merchandise from me and after we both posted positive feedback, she did a chargeback. I reported it and I was told I couldn't change my feedback. Can issues like this be corrected?

Just A Jewelry Designer said...

I've tried to read that twice ..just made my head hurt.

Rob there are things that need to be done NOW...

1. customer Service..NOW!
2. Fix Search and YES relevancy is BEST!
3. TOOLS! Vacation modes,Global Editor,1 page lister
4. Stop curating the front page..I'd rather see listings go across the FP than to see the blatent favortism..YES it happens DAILY!
5. Please fire DXO .. she is a liabilty, just sayin'

As I read this interview I could only thing WHAT?!

PS love that my word verification is dingus!LMAO!

Zelda said...

I hate this 'you can't click on a TV commercial, you can't click on a magazine' ad junk. This is why Etsy needs real marketing advice; it's called 'building a brand' and 'brand awareness'.

nuggets said...

I'm not sure if you guys asked about it, but I'm a little worried that Rokali didn't speak too much about search and the category/tag system. I keep hoping that they are totally revamping it all and know exactly what is wrong with search. But, no mention of it, really worries me that it isn't a priority. I truly hope that their lame "relevancy thursday" is not their way of tackling that issue!

The FP favoritism can go away if they would just use more member created treasuries. The time admin save by not having to create the FP can be spent on the phones or dealing with flags, or moderating the bugs forum or helping Rokali learn the names of his staff.

Teams are important, to some, but it shouldn't be a top priority.

WTF takes so god damn long for everything to get done at Etsy. Make a list. Tackle the list, one by one. Check it off, and move on to the next issue.

SSDD2 said...

Where the hell is wristeroni? We need a video of this with a Rosie the Riveter finger puppet, and a finger with coral nail polish as Rob. Have you tried to read what he said out loud? LMFAO

Rob needs a wake-up smack said...

Seriously, I think the manager at the local Subway would whip Etsy into shape faster and more efficiently than Rob.

I have been on Etsy for over three years and it has been the same issues all that time. It's beyond my comprehension as to why certain problems can't be taken care of - right now! The sad thing is that I remember being new and reading in the forums how all these problems are the same problems that people talked about FIVE years ago! At some point Rob has to realize that something isn't working. They can have the best computer geek squad in the world working there but unless you actually let them DO SOMETHING it will make no difference.

Rob, if you insist on keeping your friends as your employees then do them a huge favor and pay for business and ethics classes for them. They clearly have no idea (or no interest) how to do the most basic customer service. Their interests seem to lie more in trying to find the most kitsch, low-quality craft to promote over and over rather than building up Etsy as a place to find real art and fine craft from talented people who actually do this for a living and have been for many, many years. Not everyone is knew to this "handmade revolution", some have been carrying on the handmade tradition that has been going on forever. The only thing "revolutionary" about this round is that EVERYONE thinks they can do it. Talent or not. And, sadly, most of the folks who work at Etsy seem to fall into that category... they think they can run a business with no experience, no training and no bedside manner. And I hate to say this, because I don't want to see it happen, but Etsy will go the way of the mustache on a stick - in the garbage with the rest of the novelties that people get tired of when they decided they want (functional) quality over kitsch.

ijustsew said...

Another member of the Community Council checking in.

It was fun and quite obvious that nothing we said mattered in terms of changing etsy.

It's just like the ideas forum. You say how you feel, ask for what you need and then etsy just does what it feels like.

We talked about favoritism and resellers and tools. Seen any changes?

ronsfitl said...

the front page and the featured sellers are (pretty much) just a constant crappy list of perennial copycats and the people who pick them must be either stoned or completely wiped out and so distant from what is going on out there in the creative universe that they do not care at all. either that or thier marketing research has told them that the public wants the same old crap and doesnt care. doubtful. netflix suggestions are also pretty tiresome but if using such a technique helps us to sell more, bring it on. let's get these changes going.

Old Hippie Bitch said...

What's most insulting is how little he prepared for this interview. It's no secret what topics would be covered, yet his answers were nothing but rambling minutia.

Will Etsy ever have a CEO with goals, focus and a plan of action?

Esther said...

Rob there are things that need to be done NOW...

1. Improve customer Service
2. Fix Search
3. Tools that the customer base wants and needs, not tools that EA foists on client base
4. Use only customer base treasuries for FP
5. Stop highlighting Resellers, research first.
6. Most important BETA TEST any proposed implementation for at least 2 months prior to going live.
7. Do not use the Etsy client base as lab rats for pet projects.
8. Please invest in PR training for yourself and other Etsy spoke persons, it is badly needed.
9. You want click? Then advertise in quarterly regional cyber magazines, you'll get click through and can measure responses, and find your targets. TV not needed, you all aren't ready for that.
10. Time to grow up Etsy and really take advantage of the wonderful concept that you have access to as in the Etsy Customer base. Don't squander the opportunity anymore.

SO TIRED . . . said...

I wish EB had asked why the sudden hange in CEO's. Maybe they did, or maybe it was on the 'do not ask' list from Etsy.

TinyNewVoice said...

This is somewhat unrelated to the post, but I just had a request for the EBs.

I am a Etsy newbie (I detest the glorified term "n00b") and have read through nearly all your posts. I am so glad to have found you guys. This has helped me IMMENSELY in figuring out what to expect from my Etsy experience (not too much admittedly, but a a great head's up nontheless).

I was wondering if you'd do your own version of the Etsy's guide for Newbies. Although your mission is clear, I still had to "adjust" myself to all the Etsy speak since I am new. It would be helpful to show my colleagues, and even customers so they know what to be aware of.

If this entry already exists, please forgive me. Like I said I have read through almost all the entries, I think I only have a few months' worth to go.

Thanks and again, awesome job and cause.

Painted Bull said...

Rokali answers are so easy to comprehend a 21 year old hipster doofus can understand it...
Quick, someone go out and get me a 21 year old doofus!

-PaintedBull

WindysDesigns said...

I just want to point out, because after reading this interview again, a thought suddenly dawned on me.

Not that Rob needs an excuse to sound disjointed and unfocused, I have definitely observed this in spontaneous interviews, but I also need to point out that a lot of questions EB asked were really not specific. Asking him what his 'thoughts' or 'ideas' or 'visions' are is just an invitation for him to respond with whatever he feels like sharing rather than answering the question.

If EB ever gets another chance at an interview, I think it would be helpful to ask more direct questions, requiring direct answers. And if he doesn't answer the question, ask it again. Don't let him off the hook so easily. I know, probably easier said than done, if he doesn't want to answer a question he simply won't answer it. But it is much easier to see the evasion when the questions require a more focused answer.

Again, not trying to be critical, just trying to offer some food for thought for any future interviews. I'm guessing with your reputation as 'bitches', that you didn't want to come on too strong and demanding in your first interview.

The Righteous One said...

Windys, you're right. This interview was a way to begin a dialog to help get actual changes made at Etsy, which required toning down the confrontational aspect of who we are.

A lot of the discussion was making Rokali aware of our points of view. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to pay much attention to the Etsy forums because though he says he's aware of the problems, he didn't know the problems we hear from you guys every day. The somewhat open questions was to see where we all stand before delving into details.

After more than an hour and half, Cranky and Sneaky didn't get to every question, and we didn't get as deep as we could've, we know, but we felt that simply hacking at him without knowing where he was standing would've been less beneficial.

It's obvious that his priorities are not focused where sellers' priorities are (API for instance). And this has to be worked on through interactions with Etsy, or accepted as something they aren't going to change, and that will be up to each seller when they evaluate the venue they use.

eclipse said...

Windys, your neighbor is making sure the battery doesn't go dead.

eclipse said...

UgaBugaBowls
they have had a "report this post" button for over a year.

seriously? said...

You can't click on a tv ad? Seriously??? You can't get a Big Mac out of the tv either, but McDonald's advertises. What a lame excuse.

Jamy Hillis said...

He acknowledged the FP favoritism and that is a big deal in my mind. For how long have people been saying that there is no FP favoritism and that it's all just something that was created in the fevered imaginations of the Etsybitches?

The next time someone even hints that there's not been any FP favoritism, Rob's comment should be copied and stuck to that person's forehead with a nail gun.

I also appreciate him acknowledging as much as he did. I know that in the past, there has been a lot of "We hear ya and we're working on a solution to that problem" with no results, but...well...you have to start somewhere and I think that his willingness to grant EB that interview spoke volumes about his intentions.

He said the words, I heard him, and I'll watch and wait to see if he backs up the words with actions.

Nicely done, Bitches. I appreciate you taking the time to take on this huge task and share it with us.

Penny said...

Ooh thanks so much for posting this interview, finally!

I'm really looking forward to a lot of the site changes Rob mentioned (and hoping API gets pushed back!)

WindysDesigns said...

"Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to pay much attention to the Etsy forums because though he says he's aware of the problems, he didn't know the problems we hear from you guys every day."
_____________________

One again, I call Bullshit. (not on you guys, on him).

Supposedly he reads EtsyBitch, so even if he didn't read the forums, he should be intimately aware of the problems you've brought up here. And even if he didn't read the forums does he live in a vacuum? Between the various blogs, twitter and his own employees, I find it hard to believe that he is as unaware of problems as he would like us to believe.

And thank you Eclipse for sharing the reason my neighbor revs his motorcycle incessantly. Too bad he never heard of that new invention called a battery charger.

Tula said...

UgaBugaBowls makes some excellent points. My only disagreement is that an API should be a high priority. Not because of the personalization stuff, but because it will force them to look at their codebase and make sure everything works properly.

I'm a software engineer in my day job and one of the things you learn early is that that you to make the bones of your application work first, then you can focus on making things "pretty." Otherwise, you're just putting lipstick on a pig.

In terms of finding reseller, if I had access to Etsy's systems/databases, I could have some code ready in a day that would search out whatever terms identify a reseller. It's not hard.

For search, I hope they research what happened when eBay changed their search. Their first goal should be to make it as easy as possible for the user to find what they're looking for. And why can't they simply search on item titles and not depend so heavily on all this tagging stuff? Again, it's not that hard to implement.

Finally, I would love a way to upload my listings quickly, either with a data file loader/importer or a tool, like eBay's TurboLister or something similar. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to spend my time actually creating product rather than having to click through pages of a clunky item listing process. Make it easy for us to add listings so we can get more product on the site (and increase Etsy's income). It's a no-brainer. Most sites have some kind of file-based listing upload. Granted, it's not as easy for the end users as a point and click tool, but someone out there would probably build a nice app on top of it.

This is the real advantage of an API. If that were available, software geeks and sellers like myself, who actually know what the sellers want, would be able to create tools that sellers could use to manage their shops. Meanwhile, the Etsy engineering team can continue to build real system features.

OhPlease said...

HA!
What the hell do those kids in Brooklyn actually do all day? You know, besides gossiping, picking FP items from their pool of favorites, and keeping the disgusting clique going?

We would like to do this, we would like to do that, but the resources.....I call BS.

Oh but hey- some sellers in my town showed me their 'swag bags' Etsy sends them for being top sellers. You better believe these people are front page regulars, featured sellers, practically live in the GGs and Etsy Finds emails, and will chew me out for anything I say Etsy could do better.
You can't give me phone support, or even a measly coupon code option, but you can spend that time picking and choosing gifts to send your 'best' sellers, who will then defend you to no end because you are setting them up to succeed just so you can use them to line your pockets with cash?
What about the rest of us? Where do we fit in to your money-grubbing "community"?
Why can't that time and money be spent on something better, for everybody and not just the chosen few?

All Etsy seems to want are a bunch of yes men falling out of their ass.

sarawearsskirts said...

interesting to read that tools for the etsy teams are on the priority list of much-needed tools. i spent 18 months working non-stop trying to make 'teams pages' happen, and was shot down repeatedly by maria. it was surprising to see them mentioned here.

the teams are one of the most, if not absolutely the most, valuable asset etsy has, in terms of community and marketing. they're unlike any other viral marketing program on the web - etsy teams have even inspired other (non-handmade venue) sites' community marketing programs (which made me realize that, since the teams were given zero tools from etsy, the thing that makes etsy teams most amazing is the dedication of the thousands of fantastic etsy teams members).

you all actually wrote some things about my departure from etsy in dec 2008. honestly, the thing that made me most sad about my etsy employment coming to an end was that i was crushed to think the teams were probably never going to get the tools they deserve to continue to be amazing (and benefit etsy as a whole). i sincerely hope the new teams functionality is delivered and delivered well - do it well or don't do it at all.

i don't actually read EB often (i'm busy running my business!), but i heard about this interview and was curious. thanks to EB for asking questions and to rob for answering (which surprised me, considering i remember the days when EB was blocked at the office).

xo,
sara
(aka ex-etsy admin sarawearsskirts)

shakeshead said...

Doesn't anybody else want to know why three very smart board members would shove aside Maria and bring back Rob?

The company was in the black, no one listens to our concerns anyway, so wouldn't the three VC's rather see a profitable etsy?

I would like to thank EB for the work that went into the interview.

I am so underwhelmed by Rob's reponses. He could have set the house on fire but instead chose to side step every important issue.

eclipse said...

"The next time someone even hints that there's not been any FP favoritism, Rob's comment should be copied and stuck to that person's forehead with a nail gun."

BRAVO!!
Anyone with eyes, a short term memory, and 2 brain cells to rub together can see the blatant favoritism so at least we know Rob possesses those 3 things.

The Righteous One said...

sarawearsskirts, thank you for stopping by.

We're serious when we say we're fighting for change, not just fighting, so to have the Etsy door open to listening is a great development. We may be a bit more brash than most, but we're damn honest.

Evermore Organics said...

Oi vey. Ok all Im going to say is that Id love to get into that IRC chatroom.

MadeUpName said...

Sara, it is good to hear from you again because you were A-Ok :)

I can't believe Rob thinks *3* phone lines are ENOUGH for 100,000 plus sellers and god knows how many buyers.

Rob, you will need a good 20 more....

The Sneaky One said...

Hi Sara! You were always one of my favorite Admin and I was furious when we learned you were no longer going to be with the company.

I dont quite get the whole furor surrounding us talking to Rob. We did, get over it. He reads us regularly, and I have always had an open line of communication with him. We are by no means enemies. Not friends, but not enemies.

The whole tone of the conversation was extremely friendly.

I agree that we could've been more pointed. Future conversations will have that more pointed feel to them.

The whole upset tone of the larger of the posts in the forums really amuse me because they really think we're some awful people. Two words for you.. Watchdog media. :D Seriously people, there are worse things in the world than Rob Kalin talking to EB.

I've enjoyed reading all of the posts about our interview. I am glad that many of us see it as we did. We did not censor, misconstrue or change any wording of what he said.

Thanks again everyone for being so awesome. :)

The Funny One said...

WindysDesigns could be on to something with the focus on Kalin "doesn't read the forums" because I doubt most Admins read them either, which is why when they do post, they are usually off topic.

Perhaps hiring a new, fresh "forum moderator" will finally give the forums the attention they need even if it's just culling the most salient points of sellers' reactions & frustrations about site tweaks that are implemented without warning.

It doesn't take a lot of effort to realize that weekly reports on the top 5 seller forum issues might put Etsy employees, finally, "in touch with their sellers."

That is, if they finally start to differentiate between "hurt feelings" and the skill of using their seller-board the way it was meant to be used ---- to make the site work better and help ALL sellers sell.

Concerned New Seller said...

I am relatively new to esty and working on finding my footing there. This interview did not inspire me with confidence. Instead, it nurtured the gnawing fear that etsy may not be the right place for me.

1 - Why should my competition be the people who provide the bulk of guidance information for a paid service?

2 - Not knowing who handles bug issues is inexcusable. A bug can affect your site in a way that negatively affects both our businesses and reputations. How can you not know?

Frankly, it makes me wonder if anyone is really monitoring? I run the sales department at my company and I know who heads up testing for each individual product.

NO EXCUSE!

3 - FP Bingo and Retaliatory Staff Behavior - These have been the single largest sources of concern for me. How can I trust etsy to be my commerce partner when I don't feel like I am trust etsy?

I am actively looking for other sites to sell and begun listing. I have no issue leaving etsy all together if the level of service does not change.

Marni said...

Unfortunately, I think one the biggest problems is that most of the staff are just "young and dumb". They are on power trips and when someone says they don't like it, they do it more! I'm not saying all young people are dumb, but I have a feeling that most of the individuals that work there are friends of friends who probably didn't have much, if any, experience working in this kind of business. Though the lack of my own promotion is obvious, Etsy is definitely not helping 95% of those that sell on Etsy because of their immature, clique-y employees. Yes, many on the forum kiss butt by saying "Etsy can do what it wants because it's their company". Yes, I agree with that somewhat, but, in the end, if the company wants to have long-term success, it also needs to take into consideration the majority of it's customers, not a tiny little percentage. The fad stuff they tend to promote will eventually fade away and in the mean time, the rest of their sellers will fade away with it because customers of handmade will stop shopping here because they think all that is sold here is marketed towards the teens and early twenty's crowd! And marketing and promotion is just scratching the surface with the issues of this site! It's time to get a "grown-up" in there with real experience in running a business. Otherwise, Etsy will fade away when the teens and 20-somethings grow up and start shopping somewhere else!

like, y'know. said...

Oh, Jeebus. I couldn't even get through that incoherent mess. Is English his native language?

FantasyClay said...

Marni says:
Unfortunately, I think one the biggest problems is that most of the staff are just "young and dumb"

I call Bullshit on that- they're mostly in their late 20's by now. I have worked with a lot people that age, some of them my supervisors, annoyingly, but they were mature and motivated.

Young isn't an excuse- unmotivated and immature slackers hits closer to home. They just down want to grow up

notimpressed said...

Rob's incoherent responses were way too painful to read, and left me wondering if he ever actually completes his sentences...or a thought for that matter.

As remarked on by others, it sounded like he was not in possession of all this faculties, or had somehow been transported back to the "flower power 60's".

Not impressed ...or convinced that he has the ability to steer the Etsy ship to a place where sellers will feel less used, and actually can sell their wares without favoritism and with tools that have been requested time and time again.

Marni said...

"Young and dumb" is just my term for anyone younger than 30 that are inexperienced and don't always make the right choices because they are more worried about "having fun" right and not realizing that what they are doing now can affect them in the future. There are just as many mature teens and 20-somethings as there are immature 40 & 50 year olds. Don't be so offended........there have been many comments about how people feel like they're back in junior/senior high school with the way Etsy is run......

confused,really said...

Whether you read comments here, or in that giant forum thread, people are scared, disillusioned and confused.

He came back with such promises. Does anyone think anything will change?

Thanks for scoring the interview, though. I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

Chantelle said...

I don't totally understand why the entire interview wasn't published. Sure, transcription is a big job, but specific seller names could have been changed or edited out instead of taking out entire sections.

I also agree with WindysDesigns that it would have been better to ask him direct questions next time, so that he had to come up with an actual answer, instead of vaguer statements.

Even so, Rob comes across as an uneducated, egocentric idiot in this interview. He doesn't sound like a CEO. He sounds like a kid at 4am after a night of drinking, talking about how to change the world. All words and no meaning.

Nothing he said indicates that etsy is actually making changes; all he's doing when he's talking is blowing smoke. Thinking about doing things isn't the same as doing things. He makes it up as he goes along - that's the visionary part of him - but clearly has no idea how to set priorities or communicate.

I also don't believe that he doesn't read the forums, or that he was unaware of what was going on while he was gone with DXO or resellers or the front page curation issues. How can I be expected to respect a CEO who is clearly lying?

Giftbearer said...

A few things I read sound like they have some potential (if he follows through and keeps us informed of how this is being achieved at each stage of production).

I'm still waiting for an answer to my last convo from him by the way, and only found this interview after a friend forwarded the link to me tonight.

Why not just list the names of moderators above each section in the Etsy forum? That way everyone will know who is assigned to which section. Other forums do that. It's very simple to fix that.

I'm not too sure I like the idea of customizing the front page by what viewers want to see because that still places the focus on the amaturish-taste demographic of buyers that Etsy started out with (owls, and cowels, etc).

There is still a barrier to bringing in enough of the luxe market looking for art/fine craft items because Etsy has spent so many years barking up the wrong tree and branding itself with the kitschy cutesy stuff that it's a turn-off to buyers with more refined tastes and the money that comes with it.

The interviewer touched on this, but I would be interested in going deeper and asking what Rob plans to do to market to the luxe target customer. Where is he going to advertise? Which publications? Which TV shows? Which commercial spots? When is this going to happen? Have possible options even been discusse yet in internal staff meetings? Have they compiled a list?

And to get even more specific; what does he plan to do to level the playing field for the enormously oversaturated jewelry category. Right now the chances of being seen by the right customers who are seriously likely to buy is like hoping to win the lottery regardless of the efforts of any individual shop. If you can sell enough per day at a show, yet go 4 months at a stretch on Etsy and make 0 sales even when you yourself are actively promoting there is something wrong.

I'd really love to hear some straight answers to these issues from Rob and Etsy.

Morrigan said...

"I'd really love to hear some straight answers to these issues from Rob and Etsy."

I think that sums it up for most of us. Sadly, in my nearly 4 years experience with Etsy, I would advise you not to hold your breath.

BeenThere said...

Etsy is in the same biz as all the big companies: the only thing that matters is their bottom line.
AS if they have the same rights as individuals: they don't have the same responsibilities (like, disclosure, ethics, integrity)

Rob Kalin is a fool, and is happily irresponsible. Maybe the "board" feeds him psychedelics to keep him confused so they can rake in the profits and dump the company for more.
Etsy is a garage sale because Rob sold all their artists and knowledgeable vintage dealers down the river, and doesn't have the balls to admit it even to himself.

He's just the type I would have called a "gifted underachiever" to their parents and a slacker spoiled asshole to my colleagues.

sillygirl said...

I'm a little concerned how "teams" will work at Etsy if they become a big part of promoting. First off, I have worked very hard to become visible in the craft world. I have never had any support from Etsy, never been a fav. either. I do admire many people on the teams, but really don't want Etsy taking over what I do outside the "world of the internet".
I'm glad you mentioned the "etsy brand" being stuck to many sellers these days. I certainly don't want the rest of my crafting career to have that label to it, just because I am in my 30s and make a skull from time to time.
There IS a backlash to being a seller on Etsy. It may be spoken in hush tones and in private conversations at craft shows. But let me tell you, they're like big brother. Always watching. It's scary.

J. Cord said...

This was rambling, incoherent at times and painful to read. I would think some drug testing might be in order. And this is what heads Etsy. I have to start looking elswhere.

Frrrrrt said...

I'll be the first one off the ship when that gaggle of giggling aging hipsters starts a fire in the boiler room dancing around to those indie records while wearing their felted vintage skirts, while the engineers, probably the only people that do any actual work throughout the day, are trying to email them about support and features, tools and improvements.

I imagine there's a very small cluster of people who take their job seriously at Etsy, and the other 75% who couldn't tell you what their job actually is.

Guess where Rob fits in. Until he actually does something with Etsy, anyways.

It's fun to be hip, but you aren't running a bar or record shop, so grow up. And grow a pair while you're at it, and be a big 'ol meany to Admin that act like children.


Excuse me, I have to fart, someone just blew a ton of worthless hot air up my ass.

junky said...

um Rob? How can you not see that staff having shops is a conflict of interest?

You have the Etsy junk shop, if you want them to have experience they can take turns running that thing.

ummmmno said...

Seriously? He copped out, I've tried reading this twice and it just looks like a bunch o' mumbo jumbo. Which does not surprise me a whole lot.

Rokali..Rob, whoever should refrain from speaking...he sounds like a teenager with no sense of management and assertiveness.

iamoverit said...

i'm so over etsy. so over. i enter my shop from the "backdoor" and tiptoe in and out. if i didn't have over 6000 items sold and daily sales i'd run for the hills.

Koloud 'Kay' Tarapolsi said...

Thanks for doing the interview and taking the time to write it out for us.

Was there any mention of adding 'Eid' as a tag, along with Christmas and Hanukah? I wasn't sure if it got spoken about in the interview and it didn't make it to the summarization or not?

I know all the other stuff is super important and worth talking to him about, but adding Islam to the dinner table is important to me too.

The Righteous One said...

Kay, the subject of tagging wasn't approached specifically.

Graphic Design by Tara said...

Just an observation..

Interviewer completely PROFESSIONAL and APPROPRIATE.

Rokali sounds like a stoned 12 year old.

Keep on bitchin'
T♥