Blogs & Comment

Winners & Losers: Etsy sews up $100m, Abercrombie gets grounded

A&F jet’s permanent cologne smell may hurt its resale value

▲ Etsy

Cross-stitches be crazy

Interior of Etsy’s headquarters

The online marketplace for handmade products, vintage items, and an alarmingly high number of felt animals filed for an initial public offering this week. Etsy is seeking to raise $100 million at a $1.7 billion valuation. The numbers behind Etsy’s growth are impressive. At the end of last year, it had 54 million members and featured 1.4 million active sellers. The company earns money by charging merchants to list on the site, and then takes a cut of each sale. Last year, it earned $195.6 million, up by 56% over 2013. Profit remains elusive, however, not that investors in buzzy companies care much about that. The company’s IPO filing contained a lot more than financials and dove into Etsy’s unique culture, revealing previously unknown levels of twee-ness. The prospectus explains that twice a week, employees eat at communal picnic tables in a practice called Eatsy. “We eat on compostable plates,” the filing explains. “Employees sign up to deliver our compost by bike [obviously] to a local farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn [of course it’s in Brooklyn], where it is turned back into the soil that produces the food we enjoy together. [why must you be so earnest?] In this way, Eatsy [please stop saying that] goes into the very soil we live and work on. [ugh, you don’t literally work on soil, Etsy.]” The company could complete its IPO as early as April.

▼ Abercrombie & Fitch

Losing their shirts again

Interior of an Abercrombie & Fitch store

The formerly cool teen clothing retailer is having to sell off its private jet as it continues to face lacklustre sales. Abercrombie & Fitch disclosed the news as part of its fourth quarter earnings results, which were pretty lousy, too. The company’s private jet was somewhat infamous. Under the direction of former longtime CEO Mike Jeffries, staff members on the plane had to follow a strict set of rules that included Byzantine seating arrangements, including for Jeffries’ three dogs. When the plane was headed back to headquarters in Ohio, the crew was instructed to play “Take me home,” by Phil Collins as guests boarded. In a sign of benevolence, the pilots were allowed to wear shirts. Jeffries left the company last year amid tanking sales, and in the earnings call this week, the current executive team didn’t have much of a strategy to revive the flagging brand. One notable change of late is moving away from plastering the company’s logo on every item of clothing, tainted as it is now by the stench of bad teen cologne and desperation. The company is also experimenting with turning down the volume of music (or as Abercrombie’s president mistakenly called it during the conference call, “noise”) played in stores, turning up the lighting, and generally making its retail locations feel less like a bizarre form of torture.