Etsy, website where 20 million a year buy artsy goods, crafts IPO plan

Almost $2 billion worth of stuff was sold on Etsy last year, generating $109 million for the start-up

Etsy Inc., an online shop where people sell artsy goods, filed on Wednesday to go public.

The nearly 10-year-old start-up, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it’s seeking to raise $100 million in an initial public offering of its stock. The figure is typically a placeholder value used to set filing fees. On the private market, Etsy was valued at more than $600 million back in 2012, according to media reports at the time.

Etsy has separated itself from Amazon, EBay, Alibaba and other online marketplaces by catering to mostly women sellers who handmake their crafts and clothing. The small-scale approach means Etsy moves fewer goods -- about $2 billion worth of stuff in 2014. But it is growing rapidly, with about 20 million buyers and more than 1.3 million sellers in 2014.

Driven by listing fees and commission on sales, revenue has climbed to almost $196 million in 2014, more than doubling from $75 million in 2012.

In the SEC filing, Etsy Chief Executive Chad Dickerson said going public would help the company broaden its appeal and continue to develop what he called the “Etsy economy.”

“We believe in an economy that transcends price and convenience, one that emphasizes relationships over transactions and optimizes for authorship and provenance,” he wrote.

Expansion and marketing have already sent costs surging at Etsy; net loss widened to $15 million in 2014 from $2.4 million in 2012.

Dickerson, a former Yahoo executive who became CEO four years ago, wrote that the company plans to take an uncommon approach by not providing investors with regular forecasts about earnings because “the pressure” of financial targets would tilt the company away from its long-term focus.

Etsy said it’s seeking to list on Nasdaq under the ticker ETSY. It plans to make some of the initial shares available to individual purchasers. The well-known venture capital firms Accel Partners and Union Square Ventures hold large stakes in the company.

Twitter: @peard33

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