Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A Wild Ride for Etsy in 2017: Success and Sacrifice

By Motley Fool Staff - Dec 10, 2017 at 2:50PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The online crafts platform is posting better numbers heading into the new year, but it’s made major sacrifices to reach this point.

Investors are breathing a sigh of relief as Etsy (ETSY 9.02%) stock has surged over 60% year to date, clawing back roughly half of its share price losses since its IPO in the spring of 2015.

In this segment, our Motley Fool Industry Focus: Consumer Goods team takes a look at the company's turnaround. Find out why Etsy is performing better, and what it's had to give up in order to do so.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Dec. 5, 2017.

Vincent Shen: Asit, last time that we spoke about Etsy, it was in the context of increasing consumer customization and that trend in the industry. Listeners, if you've never shopped with Etsy, if you're not as familiar with the name, this is an online marketplace that pairs the company's 1.9 million sellers of handmade and artisan style goods with more than 30 million buyers. The company makes money by charging sellers transaction fees on items that they sell in the marketplace, as well as additional fees for services like payment processing, shipping, and promotion. Revenue in the last year came in at $415 million. The stock has only been trading publicly for about 2.5 years. For most of that period, returns were poor, and the stock traded below its initial offering price. But year-to-date, the stock is now up over 50%. If we work our way from the beginning of the year, there's been some big changes at Etsy that I think contributed to the very bullish rally. That included some leadership changes, some layoffs and changes in terms of the organizational structure. What happened, Asit?

Asit Sharma: In May of this year, a board member, Josh Silverman, was appointed CEO. The current CEO who had shepherded the company through its IPO process, and who was the former CTO, chief technical officer, Chad Dickerson, had to resign. At the same time, on the same day, the company laid off over 100 employees, and has had at least one round since then. Chad Dickerson represented the best aspirations of Etsy. The company was a certified B Corp, business corp, which is a really hard certification that points to a sustainable business ethos. Patagoniahas the same certification. It was known to be an extremely accommodating work environment, and it was a company that proposed to change the world.

When Etsy went public, they wanted to both make money on the bottom line but push for social justice and sustainable goods and sustainable trade. The problem was, the company was spending a lot of money on marketing to increase its gross merchandise sales, the volume of business that Etsy takes a slice off of each transaction. Silverman, who was the board member I mentioned, was one of the people who was consistently questioning Etsy's business practices and its viability as an ongoing concern if you look over long-term horizons.

He was appointed in May, and since then, just look at the most recent quarter, the company has increased the gross merchandise sales 13% to $766 million. Revenue was up 22% to $106 million this quarter vs. the prior year. Etsy had a net income of $26 million in its most recent quarter vs. a prior year loss of $2 million. So it's had positive change out of the gates since May. The question for some investors who wanted to both profit from the stock and participate in this feel-good story is, has the original mission of Etsy been lost, and is it now more of a corporate-style entity.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Etsy, Inc. Stock Quote
Etsy, Inc.
ETSY
$79.81 (9.02%) $6.60

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
316%
 
S&P 500 Returns
112%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/04/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.