Rob Kalin Out as Etsy CEO
Rob Kalin, the founder of Etsy, an online handmade and vintage marketplace, is stepping down as CEO of the company, the company announced on its blog today.
The company's CTO, Chad Dickerson, will take the lead as the company's new CEO. Dickerson, who has been with the company for three years and was hired by Kalin, 30, wrote on Etsy's blog that he is looking forward to scaling the company while keeping in line with its values. "I'm going to prioritize the needs of the Etsy community in the broadest sense—Etsy's sellers, how we work with each other within the company, our local communities, and everyone whose lives we touch," he wrote. "It's a big responsibility that I take very seriously."
This is the second time Kalin has stepped out of a day-to-day leadership role at Etsy. It's been just three months since the April cover story of Inc. questioned: Can Rob Kalin scale Etsy? Senior writer Max Chafkin wrote:
Today, Kalin is socially awkward, reticent, and given to eccentricities that can seem downright crazy. "I speak to people in the business world and the technology world, but I don't admire them," he says, pointing an 8-inch combat knife at me for emphasis. "I admire the makers of the world." This is not empty rhetoric: Kalin makes his own furniture and his own underwear. He also thinks that trying to maximize shareholder value is "ridiculous," adding, "I couldn't run a company where you had to use that as an excuse for why it was doing things."
Dickerson's blog post highlights what appears to be the company's move toward putting a greater emphasis on its technical infrastructure. He noted that he joined the company in a time of technological turmoil, and that: "after three years, I am really proud of the engineering team we've built together here and the progress that we've made. We've more than quadrupled the engineering team, and the team is moving quickly and getting things done."
Etsy's website boasts more than nine million members, who are selling roughly 10 million handmade and vintage items and more than 800,000 active online shops. In April, Inc. reported that Etsy, which is based in Brooklyn, New York, had 165 employees and revenue of $40 million—putting the company in a position poised to be a likely candidate for an IPO. Inc.'s April article also noted:
Kalin has poached executives from the likes of Yahoo, Google, and eBay, and he has been honored as a "Technology Pioneer" by the grandees at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos. "Rob is an accidental businessperson," says Fred Wilson, the first VC who invested in Twitter and an early investor in Etsy. "He's actually a pretty good businessperson, but he thinks of himself as an artist."
Wilson wrote on his blog today, addressing the leadership change:
Being a founder of a highly successful company is thrilling but also a somewhat harrowing role. As the company scales, things change. Nothing happens as fast as it did when you first built the product. A minor feature rollout takes longer than it took to build the entire website. Nobody cares as much as you do about the sign on the door, the company employee directory, the brand, the copy on a marketing document, the place the checkbox is on the page, etc., etc. And yet, when there are hundreds of employees, you have to rely on all of them to do all of these things. It's a struggle for every founder I have ever worked with. And Rob is so very much that founder who cares intensely.
Before joining Etsy, Dickerson served as senior director of Yahoo's Brickhouse & Advanced products team and worked for three years leading teams in product development for the company. Previously, Dickerson worked at InfoWorld Media Group, Salon.com, and the News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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