How Etsy Found Its Purpose and Crafted a Turnaround

March 22, 2022

Etsy, the online seller of handmade goods, was founded in 2005 as an alternative to companies that sold mass-manufactured products. The company grew substantially but remained unprofitable under the leadership of two early CEOs.

Ten years later, Etsy went public and was forced into a new arena, where it was beholden to stakeholders who demanded financial success and accountability. Unable to contain costs, the company was almost bought out by private equity firms in 2017 – until CEO Josh Silverman arrived with a mission to save the company financially and, in the process, save its soul.

Harvard Business School professor Ranjay Gulati discusses the purpose-driven turnaround Silverman and his team led at Etsy – to make the company profitable and improve its social and environmental impact – in the case, “Etsy: Crafting a Turnaround to Save the Business and Its Soul.”

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