Goodbye Percolate, Hello Etsy

I joined Percolate in March of 2014 as the 100th employee at the company (today: 250+). Back then, we were all piled into a single floor of our NY office in SoHo. We’ve grown tremendously, raising two rounds of funding, opening offices around the world, and delivering The System of Record for global Fortune 500 brands like Unilever and GE.

But in the next chapter of my career in product management, it is time to say goodbye to Percolate, and hello to Etsy.

I bought my first item on Etsy eight years ago, as a Christmas gift to my college sweetheart, Olivia. It was a thin silver cuff bracelet with a custom quote stamped onto it: “Expect happy endings”. I bought it from a woman in Savannah, GA named Kathryn Reichert. Her store has gone on to complete over 19,000 orders and is rated 5 stars out of 6,485 reviews. Similarly, Etsy has grown into a global marketplace that did just under $2 billion in marketplace transactions in 2014, across 20M buyers and 1.4M active sellers.

After I finished up the Presidential Innovation Fellowship in DC and before moving to NYC, I took a trip to Peru. In between sightseeing and eating all the ceviche I could get my hands on, I read Product Design for the Web by Randy Hunt, Etsy’s VP of Design. I thought it was really good and interviewed him on this blog in January of 2014. After the interview, Randy connected me with Nickey Skarstad, then a senior product manager at Etsy. We meant to meet up for coffee but coordinating between our busy schedules proved to be difficult as I jumped aboard the Percolate rocketship.

A year-and-a-half later, we finally caught up. It turns out she had been promoted to group product manager, overseeing two teams and was looking for someone to fill her role on the Shop Management team. The team builds tools for store owners to make it easier for them to manage their business, and develops additional features and services that could potentially generate revenue for Etsy.

It sounded like a meaty product challenge, and I was intrigued. After meeting more of the team at Etsy, I was struck by their passion for Etsy’s community marketplace (an idea near and dear to my heart) and their exciting ideas for the future. I realized that this had to be next step in my career.

I want to thank James Gross and Noah Brier for their leadership and vision at Percolate. I got to work across a number of areas, from blog editorial, whitepapers, webinars, proprietary research, brand films, and product management on our sales demo. Working with some of the best people in the industry, we shipped lots of awesome work, and I learned tons about enterprise software. It was an amazing ride, and I’m proud to cheer Percolate on as an alum. We’re well on our way towards transform Marketing the way Salesforce transformed Sales.

I’m psyched take on this new product challenge at Etsy, a company that is reimagining commerce and creating a more human marketplace that operates both locally and globally. As a public benefit corporation that is now listed on NASDAQ, they’ve demonstrated incredible commitment to their buyers, sellers, and employees even as they look to grow their business financially. Everyone I have met so far has been welcoming, smart, and interesting. I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m ready to bring everything I’ve got (I start on Tuesday!) and help make life easier for the one-and-a-half million shop owners on Etsy (80% of whom are women).

I’ll be based in Dumbo, Brooklyn so if you’re in the area, come say hi. And if you run an Etsy shop (active or dormant), I’d love to chat with you. My business is making your business better.

Thanks to Bilal Mahmood for reviewing earlier versions of this post and Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya for art direction on the cover image.

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

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