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In 2005, when Rob Kalin first dreamed up the idea of Etsy.com, the Brooklyn-based online marketplace
for all things handmade and crafty, little did he know how much influence the site would have
on the growing D.I.Y. scene.With about 650,000 registered users and 60,000 individual artists selling
their wares, Etsy.com provides a place for independent craftspeople to set up shop online and, consequently,
a seemingly never-ending list of options for shoppers. The company also hosts craft workshops
at its Brooklyn headquarters, dubbed Etsy Labs, as well as a collection of online "virtual labs"
for people to learn at home. Part craft mall, part social community and part workshop, Etsy lives by
the very personal touch ethos it espouses. "We're not just an online community but we're a community
as a company," says Kalin. "It's also about everyone here being taken care of—a good salary, full
health benefits, and stock options so they have direct interest in the well-being of the company. In my
mind, it's about establishing a bedrock of teamwork where everyone knows we're in this together."
That family has grown from a few people to just over 50 employees, with over half dedicated to site
engineering. In late January, Etsy accepted a $27 million investment from Union Square Ventures,
Hubert Burda Media and Accel Partners' JimBreyer, the latter who will take a seat on Etsy's board of
directors.With the added resources, Kalin aims to expand the site beyond the U.S. dollar and the
English language and improve its technology in search and customer checkout, among other things.
On his commitment to maintaining the Etsy culture: "When eBay was about at the point we are,
they took an investment from Benchmark and brought in a fancy CEO and 18 people in suits, and
that pretty much ended the culture of the start-up. It's really important for me to keep that element
here. I have no intentions of selling the company.We've had offers but in my mind that would take all
the wind from our sails, so we're going to keep it going."