Etsy IPO brings counterculture to Wall Street | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 16.04.2015
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Etsy IPO brings counterculture to Wall Street

Online marketplace Etsy makes its stock-market debut on Thursday. The ecologically conscious company has tapped into a growing market for crafts and vintage products at the expense of larger rival eBay.

Online crafts marketplace Etsy has priced its shares at $16 (15 euros) as it prepares to make its Wall Street debut Thursday.

The price is at the top end of the company's announced rance. It values the ten-year-old company at $1.78 billion (1.67 billion euros), and is expected to raise around $267 million from an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq exchange, where it will trade under the ticker "ETSY."

The IPO will include 16.7 million shares, of which Etsy said it was selling 13.3 million. The other 3.3 million shares in the IPO are being sold by company stockholders. Up to 5 percent of the shares sold will be set aside for individual investors, including Etsy users in the US.

New York-based Etsy has yet to turn a profit, losing $15 million last year on turnover of just under $2 billion. But it has a strong brand with a dedicated following of buyers and sellers who use its platform to trade handmade and vintage goods.

It has around 1.4 million active sellers and almost 20 million people used the site to make a purchase last year.

Unlike auction website eBay, Etsy places strong restrictions on the kinds of goods that may be sold, emphasizing ecological responsibility and eschewing cheap mass production.

The company, which describes itself as an "antidote to mass manufacturing," promises the IPO will not affect its counterculture image.

"I intend to keep our unconventional operating philosophy as we become a public company," chief executive Chad Dickerson wrote in a letter included with its regulatory filing on Tuesday.

Etsy is now the US's largest benefit corporation, or certified socially responsible company, to go public.

In the past, Etsy has been able to profit from dissatisfaction with online auction giant eBay, but critics say it too has been hit by counterfeit and mass-produced goods from China, despite the company's efforts.

sgb/uhe (AP, AFP)

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