Etsy's Founder, Written Out of History, Is Not Alone
Etsy filed for an initial public offering this week, and the document is full of heartwarming tales about the online craft marketplace's community and authenticity. It takes prospective investors on a journey from the company's humble, hipster beginnings in Brooklyn a decade ago to a global network of more than a million sellers today.
One thing lacking from Etsy's corporate history is Robert Kalin, the guy who started it. Kalin came up with the idea for Etsy, raised its first batches of venture capital, and was its chief executive officer during its formative years. Then he was unceremoniously pushed out in 2011 amid concerns about whether he could continue to grow the business.
Kalin, who helped recruit current CEO Chad Dickerson, isn't going to see a big payday from the IPO—he's not listed among the top shareholders. Despite writing in 2008 that his goal was to take Etsy public, it's unclear whether he really would have done so if he were still in charge. He was quoted in a 2011 Inc. magazine article as saying the idea of maximizing shareholder value is "ridiculous." Kalin didn't respond to a request for comment, and Etsy declined to comment.
History is written by the victors, and that's especially true in the technology industry. Here are six other founders who didn't get any official recognition when their companies went public.
Eduardo Saverin, Facebook
Saverin's story is well-known, thanks to the movie about Facebook's dramatic first years, The Social Network. He was in charge of the business side of the website from its inception in Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard University dorm room. After Saverin was pushed out of the company, he sued and settled for an undisclosed amount.
Noah Glass, Twitter
Glass was a key member of the original Twitter team and even came up with the name for the company, according to Hatching Twitter, a book by Nick Bilton that chronicles the company's early days. Twitter's three other founders—Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone—are better known.
Ron Wayne, Apple
Ron Wayne was technically a co-founder of Apple Computer, but he chose to leave after only 12 days. He paid the price by missing out on millions, if not billions, when he sold his 10 percent share of the company for $800.
Russel Simmons, Yelp
Simmons co-founded Yelp in 2004 and served as its chief technology officer. He left in 2010, just two years before the company's IPO. He took "much-deserved time off to travel," TechCrunch wrote at the time.
Will Glaser and Jon Kraft, Pandora
Glaser and Kraft were friends with Tim Westergren, who started the company with them in 2000. Glaser ran software development; Kraft was in charge of the business plan; and Westergren handled music, according to Inc. Both left long before the company's IPO in 2011. Westergren remains at Pandora with the title of "founder."
Update, March 6: Adds Etsy founder's past statement about potentially taking the company public and his role in recruiting the current CEO.
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