Etsy Shakeup: CTO Chad Dickerson Takes Over CEO Role From Founder Kalin As Visitor Growth Stalls

Today marked a bit of leadership shuffling at Etsy, the online marketplace to buy your local hipster a handmade good, as CTO Chad Dickerson takes over the reins as CEO from Rob Kalin. Etsy is Kalin’s brainchild, and the founder has been acting as CEO since 2009.

Dickerson explained the change today on Etsy’s blog, saying that his focus as the new CEO will be to impel Etsy to move faster “and more purposefully”, and re-prioritize risk-taking and “learning by doing” and “iterating”.

Etsy has been growing fairly steadily over the last few years, and a report by GreenCrest Capital, a private equity firm, estimated that the startup’s revenue will grow from $72 million to $201 million by 2016.

However, while growth potential is high, the firm said that “storefront concerns were reaching a crescendo”, with customers expressing concern over the amount of effort it takes to maintain an active Etsy storefront.

In Green Capital’s survey of “over two dozen prolific Etsy sellers”, more than 80 percent of sellers “had concerns about their Etsy experience”. These concerns also included financial considerations, competition, privacy concerns, and “Etsy’s lack of technological capabilities”. Well, maybe the CTO being made the new top dog will help to allay some of the latter concern.

Another obstacle for Etsy, according to the report, is that the handicraft market “represents less than 1 percent” of retail sales in the U.S. and is “highly fragmented, comprised primarily of thousands of small, independent retailers”.

That being said, the firm predicts that the online craft sales will grow at 9.5 percent per year over the next five years, which would mean that there is market growth potential ahead. However, that number is “well ahead of offline sales”, but short of their expectations of “aggregate U.S. ecommerce market growth at 12 percent”.

comScore also had Etsy hovering at around 7.4 million monthly unique visitors worldwide in May, a number that has remained largely flat going back to December 2010.

Based on Green Capital’s report and comScore’s statistics, it would seem that Etsy’s leadership shakeup comes at just the right time.

Union Square Ventures Partner Fred Wilson weighed in on the leadership change on his blog, saying:

Transitions are never easy on the people involved and the company that goes through them. But they are inevitable in any company’s evolution. Some of them work out well and others not as much. But the role of the management and Board is to constantly try to have the right people in the right roles at the right time. And I think we’ve got that at Etsy now and I’m excited to see Chad step up to the top job and lead the company forward.

For more of Dickerson’s post addressed to the Etsy community, check it out here.