Etsy: Social Values and Financial Discipline

Is it possible for Etsy to remain true to its founders’ commitment to social values once it became a public corporation?
Bruce Kogut  | Spring 2019
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The Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics Case Series

Etsy, founded on a promise to “do good” and to “keep commerce human”, was conceived as an economical, mutually beneficial way for buyers and sellers of handcrafted goods to do business. The company went public in 2016 and two years later, after bringing on new management, Etsy raised the fees it levied on transactions, a move that significantly boosted its stock price. In this case, students are asked to consider whether Etsy’s financial policy shifts were antithetical to its stated mission—and whether companies with a social mission can serve both their social values and the profit goals of shareholders?

Case ID: 190407

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