Etsy recently inked one of the largest commerical lease deals Brooklyn, N.Y., has seen over the last decade. The handmade goods marketplace says its new 200,000 square-foot office will lead to more than 300 hires over the next five years. Just last month, the company also completed its sixth acquisition when it bought A Little Market, a French digital marketplace. Etsy did not disclose deal-terms but The Wall Street Journal estimated the purchase price at $100 million in cash and stock.
The startup is part of an emerging crop of "billion-dollar unicorns" that has elevated New York's innovation economy closer to the same playing field as Silicon Valley and Boston, in terms of venture capital invested and in deal count (check out the VC 100 Deal Map here). Since its founding in 2005, Etsy has grown into a profitable peer-to-peer e-commerce platform with gross merchandise sales hitting $1.35 billion in 2013, up from $895 million the year before.
As Etsy grows, its initiatives to support its network of more than 1 million active online shops, as well as roughly 55,000 local New York micro-businesses, grow with it. CEO Chad Dickerson says he wants to make sure Etsy keeps its homegrown Brooklyn charm, even as it expands and transitions to the much larger space. (Their current office, also in Brooklyn's DUMBO area, is 80,000 square-feet.)
Etsy employees haven't packed their vintage office décor just yet; the company expects to complete the move by summer of 2016.
But while renovations are underway, Dickerson already has a solid blueprint for positioning the new office as an active player in the Brooklyn economy, as opposed to "most Silicon Valley companies where they grow and build walls around themselves," he says.
In this interview, Dickerson reveals how the expansion should further boost neighboring businesses and other local industries, and his intent to keep Etsy's startup culture alive even as it scales tremendously through staff, acquisitions and funding (to date, it has received $91 million in venture backing, according to the company).