Own a piece of Etsy

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Etsy is going public.

The online marketplace where craftspeople can hawk crocheted stockings with deer on them is getting ready to sell some plain old stocks, according to papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Etsy, which Rob Kalin founded in his Fort Greene apartment in 2005, is looking to raise $100 million with its initial public offering, the documents show.

The move means a lot for the Kings County tech scene, according to a New York Polytechnic School of Engineering honcho.

“The fact that they were founded here in Brooklyn is big for the borough,” said Kurt Becker, the school’s vice dean for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. “It shows that Brooklyn is not just home to micro brews and niche companies, it can be the starting place for large multi-national corporatio­ns.”

Now headquartered in Dumbo, the company is set to move into larger digs in 2016, inside the Jared Kushner-owned Dumbo Heights complex. And with the help of a $5-million tax-break, it plans to bring on an additional 300 workers, which would nearly double its Brooklyn workforce. This paper named Etsy one of the 15 to Watch in 2015, in part because of the possibility of an initial public offering.

Becker noted that Etsy is maintaining its status as a B-corporation, or benefit corporation, as it goes public. This means that in addition to turning a profit, the company also has a stated mission of benefitting society.

“It shows that Brooklyn companies can make it in the market place, and still maintain a social conscience,” he said.

The company makes money by charging its sellers a fee for every sale. It generated $196 million in revenue last year, up from $125 million the year before.

But it still failed to turn a profit, losing $15 million last year. Etsy’s 1.4-million sellers fared far better, generating $1.93 billion in 2014 with sales to 19.8-million customers.

The fact that Etsy is a money-loser is not necessarily troubling, Becker said.

“If anyone thought this was a bad idea they would have postponed it,” he said. “There is a confidence that they’ll turn the corner quickly.”

The ticker symbol, which will be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, will be “ETSY.” It is not yet clear how many stocks the company will issue or how much they will cost.

Personally, Becker thinks a marketing push should capitalize on the company’s Brooklyn roots.

“They should really play up their connection to Brooklyn,” he said. “Everyone in the world knows Brooklyn now, it has a reputation, and they should leverage that.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Context added.
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