Etsy IPO: how to sell and not sell at the same time
Etsy website , where anyone can sell do-it-yourself things, while belonging to e-commerce has always distanced himself from the concept of “commerce”: for many of its users, the feeling “I buy a thing directly from its creator, a living person, and not a soulless corporate cars". In a sense, Etsy makes money from the fact that users feel that making money is not the main thing for him.
Now the company has decidedto enter an IPO - which means that it will report to shareholders with their financial interests. How not to scare away users who can decide that now there is the same "soulless corporate machine"? This question is now very relevant now, in the era of sharing economy and on-demand economy: many projects from Airbnb to BlaBlaCar become intermediaries between users, providing “human warmth”, and as they grow, they will also have to prove that they are still a “bonfire,” around which friends gathered ", and not" a sterile office space. "
Part of the answer lies in the pastcompanies: you can safely go on an IPO in the event that before that it was already becoming noticeably “corporate”, and this did not turn out to be an obvious mistake. In the history of Etsy, such an episode has already happened: from the moment of its foundation in 2005 until 2013, the rules of the site were allowed to sell only those made by hand, but with the growth of the project, factory-made things were allowed.
Yes, this caused a sharp surge in user dissatisfaction. Yes, some sellers and buyers left the site because of this, before that they were committed users (including those who were present on it almost from the very beginning). But in general, the decision led to the growth and development of the site, and not to a drop in indicators, and as a whole it retained its image, and did not become perceived as "one of many." Seeing a positive result of such a decision (which, if it fails, allows “to return everything back”, even with losses), it is much easier to accept the irreplaceable.
The second way is to immediately explain to future shareholders that certain conditions are important for success, and that you don’t have to try to crawl into the noble women by all means, because then you will only be left with nothing. Etsy is doing just that now. In the papers filed by the company for an IPO, the word “authentic” and its derivatives appear 24 times, one of them in the “risks” section with a direct message: “if it cannot be supported, the ability to retain existing participants and attract new ones may suffer” .
In addition, the company expressly declares “adherence to values - our inalienable quality” and also expressly warns: firstly, this means that in the name of long-term success one will have to sacrifice momentary benefits (for example, to prevent the sale of some goods that are incompatible with values of the company, although their sale would bring profit), and secondly, it is not a fact that this long-term positive effect will follow at all (at the moment the company is unprofitable, and it is assumed that this will change as it grows, but there are no guarantees).
Finally, a third way to get community support is to show that getting an IPO contributes to specific good goals. Women prevail among the Etsy audience, and the company has long been taking measures to increase the proportion of women among its programmers: the struggle for equality in IT, waged by other companies like Google, fits nicely into its “human values”. And now it has become known that the company intends to spend $ 300,000 of the money received during the IPO on the etsy.org charity initiative that encourages women to become entrepreneurs - the size of the amount makes this step quite symbolic, but it can still be significant for the site’s audience.