Get ready for what might be the twee-est roadshow in Wall Street history.
When Etsy was founded in a Brooklyn apartment almost a decade ago, it was designed as a website to sell wooden computers. It evolved very quickly into a popular online flea market where users could purchase anything from macramé bikinis to super trippy wall art that glows under a blue light. That growth allowed Etsy to move into shiny DUMBO digs, raise almost $60 million in venture capital, take advantage of New York State tax breaks, and become a bona fide Silicon Alley darling.
But a few months ago, Etsy fell in with a new crowd. That clique included the noted arts n' crafters at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Now Etsy is set to become a $2 billion publicly traded e-commerce behemoth.
Etsy Inc. is seeking a valuation as high as $1.78 billion as the website for handmade and vintage goods hits the road to market its initial public offering.
The company and existing stockholders intend to sell 16.7 million shares for $14 to $16 apiece, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. The high end of that range implies an IPO of $267 million and a valuation of $1.78 billion, based on about 111 million shares outstanding.
That valuation is music to the ears of longtime Etsy boosters like VC-extraordinaire Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. Wilson has invested in five separate rounds with Etsy over the years so he likely knows that the company has yet to turn an actual profit and reportedly lost $15.2 million in 2014 alone despite generating about $200 million in revenue.
But cold, boring numbers will likely not be what Etsy is selling on its IPO roadshow, choosing instead to focus on the hip factor of investing in a Brooklyn tech startup that sells really interesting pillows (potentially NSFW, depending on your W).
That charm has apparently already worked on Goldman, which is now hanging out at SXSW handing out friendship bracelets.