I am in love. With a pickle magnet.
It’s just one of the many unique crafts available on Etsy.com, a Web site that allows users to buy and sell handmade crafts, crafting supplies, and antiques. On Thursday, Etsy was also feeling the love from Index Ventures, which led the craft company’s Series E round and helped Etsy raise $20 million, tripling its pre-money valuation to just under $300 million, according to several reports. Etsy also received funding from previous investors Accel and Hubert Burda Media, and has raised $52 million overall since its founding in 2005. Past rounds have also included Union Square Ventures.
The new round of funding comes at the same time Etsy named former Google international executive Adam Freed as its new COO. As a director of international product management for Google, Freed is expected to bring worldly wisdom to the Brooklyn, NY-based craft company. Freed, who speaks nine languages, was responsible for setting up Google’s online advertising operations in London, Tokyo, Sydney, Paris, and Hamburg, in addition to setting up Google’s multilingual online operations center in Dublin.
Etsy could not be reached for comment, but founder and CEO Rob Kalin is confident in Etsy’s future. In a June video interview with TechCrunch, Kalin said that the company is set to bring in a total of $400 million in gross merchandise sales - double the $200 million the company made last year. The company, itself, doesn’t actually see much of that money, taking only 3.5 percent from each sale. Company revenues this year are expected to be between $30 and $50 million, but profits, according to Kalin, are not the driving force behind Etsy, which seeks to promote creativity, social connectivity, and exchange.
The company is expected to keep on growing. Kalin projects that in the coming years, Etsy’s gross merchandise sales will balloon into the billions, due in part to Kalin’s plans to emphasize the company’s social element. “Markets are conversations,” he said in his video interview. “For us at Etsy we want to figure out how buying an item from someone is a conversation. So Facebook’s message is to connect and share, and so Etsy is taking that one further, where it’s connect, share and exchange things.”
Etsy’s profits have been steadily rising since August 2008, when Kalin stepped down as CEO and NPR’s Maria Thomas, who directed NPR’s digital development for 6 years, was brought in to take his place. Under Thomas’ guidance, the site began to turn a profit, and Kalin stepped back in as CEO in December 2009.
Prior to founding Etsy, Kalin, a carpenter and woodworker, had dropped out of several schools before graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Study from NYU. Seeking to develop a career as a furniture designer, Kalin hit a wall when trying to sell his goods online, and created Etsy to make his goods available to consumers.
Says Kalin: “It comes with how I grew up… for me it was making furniture, so there was always this idea of being able to make what you need, and part of that is being able to sell what you make.”
The site, which had approximately 3.4 million unique visitors in 2009, boasts a rich variety of beautiful, wonderful, and weird hand-made items. There is actually a section called “Geekery.”
Geekery subsections include Accessories, Horror, Fantasy, Robot, Magic - and then one simply called “Weird.” That’s where you’ll find the pickle magnet. But I already called dibs.
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