The Maker Fakers: As Etsy Scales, the Definition of ‘Handmade’ Gets Slippery

Mr. Stinchcomb. (Photo: a.k.a. Jared)

Around this time last year, I developed a nervous twitch around my right eye that made me look like a Bond villain. Instead of getting more sleep or drinking less coffee, I decided to buy an eye patch—but, like, a cool eye patch. My eye patch should be unique and stylish in addition to being functional, I decided, and reflect that I am quirky and confident.

There are some things you can really only buy on Etsy. Read More


How to Avoid Being Pushed Out of the Company You Founded

Mr. Crowley and Mr. Selvadurai at a photo shoot for Italian Vogue. (Based on a photo by

Until recently, Foursquare cofounders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai—let’s call them Denveen—were social media’s celebrity couple.

The pair stepped together into the spotlight when Foursquare won best-in-show at the South By Southwest Internet tradeshow in 2009 in Austin. After that, they appeared everywhere together. They traded off for media interviews and the presentation of prizes at Foursquare-sponsored events. They finished each other’s sentences in a spot for the USA network; they posed on a snowy New York street bundled in cardigans for a Gap ad. In a spread for Italian Vogue last year, the sandy-haired Mr. Crowley appears in a black suit, his Indian-born cofounder in beige. Mr. Crowley has his hand on Mr. Selvadurai’s arm and they’re looking at each other with oversize grins—not surprisingly, as Foursquare is now valued at more than $600 million.

And yet, a week and a half ago, on the third anniversary of that first SXSW victory, Mr. Selvadurai announced he was leaving the company.

The word came down on a Sunday afternoon, so it took a few days for the tech tabloids to orient themselves. But soon enough, the rumors started. “A source close to Selvadurai tells us the Foursquare cofounder has seemed ‘frustrated’ and ‘lost,’” reported the blog Business Insider; Mr. Selvadurai was “forced out,” according to a followup story. “Dennis and he don’t hate each other—things just changed,” one person told AllThingsD reporter Kara Swisher.

On Saturday, Mr. Crowley took the stage at SXSW, and on Sunday, he and the rest of the Foursquare delegation drank and made merry at the infamous Foursquare shindig, held in a sunken courtyard bar. Last year, Mr. Selvadurai spent most of the party lounging on the top deck with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, or encircled by twenty-somethings on the dance floor. This year, he skipped the conference entirely. Read More


Etsy Founder Rob Kalin Steps Down As CEO, Again. This Time Is It For Good?


New York tech scene’s favorite ginger announced that he’ll be stepping down as CEO. This marks the second time since Rob Kalin started the company in 2005 that he’s given up his role, reports Venture Beat. CTO Chad Dickerson will be taking his place.  On the company blog, Mr. Dickerson wrote:

“With engineering well in hand and a strong partner in Adam Freed (our COO), it’s time for me to focus my attention on other aspects of the business. I’m stepping into the role of CEO at Etsy, and I’m looking forward to working with all of the teams at Etsy to move faster as we scale while staying true to our values.” Read More


Yo Etsy, It’s Your Birthday

rob kalin

It’s Etsy’s sixth birthday! “In June of 2005 while living alone in a wood shop and wanting some company, I came upon the idea of Etsy, and then the name, and then the design. I was twenty five years old with three cats,” Etsy’s red-haired founder Rob Kalin writes in his bio on the crafty marketplace. “Now, in 2011, I’m still living in Brooklyn, I’m 30 years old, and I have two cats.”

And Etsy, in 2011, is handling on the order of $400 million in sales in 150 countries and has more than nine million members, more than a billion page views per month. It’s constantly expanding its Dumbo offices and just rented new space in a Silicon Valley data center. And men use the site now.

Naturally, Etsy’s having a party tonight (’cause it’s their birthday).