Benner on Tech: Etsy's IPO Is No Joke

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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People are Talking About…

It’s April Fools' Day. There’ll be lots of joke news today. But this stuff is all true.

The online retailer Etsy embarks on its road show today and hopes to raise more than $300 million in an initial public offering.

When news of the IPO broke last month, items for sale on the website included “a tiny brooch made of Bulgarian Merino wool in the shape of a hedgehog.” Items for sale today include a $230 necklace made of cat hair, a set of soaps shaped like a gun and a cannoli and a $400 “Deer John” fake taxidermy of John Lennon as a deer.

This stuff sells itself, I know. But Etsy is still hiring someone who can bring more buyers to the site.

The Wall Street Journal points out that the offering is now priced between $14 to $16 a share, below the $17 a share that it gave itself in January. There haven’t been many tech IPOs over the past four months, and all of the big ones – Box, Hortonworks and New Relic -- offered shares at prices that were below where they were last set privately. As the Journal writes, “It may reflect the fever pitch of the private markets and the more muted mood of the public markets.”

In other IPO news, GoDaddy priced last night at $20 a share -- above the expected range of $17 to $19 -- valuing the web hosting company at about $4.5 billion. Remember the ads?

The anonymous messaging app Yik Yak is introducing photo sharing to the app. Chief executive Tyler Droll told Mashable that “We’re excited to see what these communities share.” The app is best known for the anonymous spread of grossly abusive comments. Who isn't excited to see what these communities share?

The San Francisco commercial real estate boom shows no signs of cooling off. Bloomberg says over the next four years developers plan to add more than 8 million square feet of office space. That’s 16 Transamerica Pyramids. Colin Yasukochi, CBRE’s director of research for Northern California, points out that if tech firms stop leasing, there are no alternative tenants “as most non-tech companies have been reducing their office footprints and getting more efficient.”

A baby was born in the back of an Uber.


Uber and Lyft may have to give New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission information on fares and which rides were requests for wheelchair-accessible cars. (BuzzFeed)

** Related: Taxi companies sued New York City for allowing Uber customers to hail rides with an app and for effectively destroying the value of a taxi medallion. (Bloomberg)

Bessemer Venture Partners wrote an open letter urging its portfolio companies to move business out of states with discriminatory laws.

We make this appeal during an historic decade in which the U.S. has made great strides toward social justice for gay and transgender citizens. We must not allow state legislators to undo this progress by curtailing human rights under the false banner of “religious freedom.”

At a time when competition for talent is at an all time high, protecting your employees and their families is not only the right thing to do -- it’s also good business. We hope that all BVP-funded companies share our resolve to open offices and host events in states that prioritize social justice.

Welcome to the unicorn list, Tanium, Sprinklr and Oscar Health.

People and Personnel Moves

Michael Angelakis is stepping down as Comcast chief financial officer to helm the company’s new $4.1 billion investment arm. Comcast will be the sole LP for the time being. Angelakis will earn $8 million a year. (The Wall Street Journal)

Joe Purzycki, Vox Media’s head of ad sales, has been poached by Medium to lead brand partnerships as the startup pushes into advertising. (AdAge)


Amazon made a “dash” button that lets you summon more toilet paper with the touch of a button. (Bloomberg)

Charter Communications agreed to buy a majority stake of Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion. The deal depends on Charter closing its separate transactions with Comcast, which depends on Comcast’s bid for Time Warner Cable being approved. (Bloomberg)

Facebook still tracks the web browsing history of people in the EU who visit the site, even if they’ve opted out of tracking or don’t have accounts. (The Guardian)

Google is working to get its Chrome OS into more hands with its inexpensive Chromebooks and its new Asus Chromebit small device that turns any screen with an HDMI video port into a computer. (CNET)

Hewlett-Packard is suing Autonomy co-founder and former CFO Michael Lynch for $5.1 billion. (Bloomberg)

RadioShack exited bankruptcy court and will co-brand stores with Sprint in a plan that should save thousands of jobs. (Bloomberg)

Twitter debuted Curator, a tool that lets media companies sort through the site to create and highlight collections of tweets and stories.

Security Watch

If the government puts a GPS tracker on you or your stuff, that counts as search and seizure. (The Atlantic)

Media Files

The Hollywood Reporter and Tencent have inked a deal whereby THR content is syndicated and distributed across the Chinese Web company’s many platforms.

The New York Times will run one-sentence stories on the Apple Watch.

News and Notes

India will use open source software across all of its government systems. (ZDNet)

Ellen Pao update: Tech workers bought a full-page ad in the Palo Alto Daily Post that says, "Thanks Ellen." (USA Today)

A crop of female-led VC firms signals a new level of success for women in the venture world. It also reflects the fact that it’s hard for women to rise to the top of the male-dominated firms. (The New York Times)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at