Etsy on Monday announced the appointment of Mike Fisher as Chief Technology Officer, effective immediately. He will be responsible for evolving the marketplace retailer’s technology strategy, "scaling our IT systems and infrastructure, deepening our machine learning expertise, and driving execution on our roadmap to help create the world's best buying and selling experience," according to a company press release.
Fisher, whose expertise includes both startups and larger corporations, was most recently the co-founder and managing partner of consulting firm AKF Partners, where he advised Etsy on several key projects, the company said. He also served as CTO at search engine company Quigo, vice president of engineering and Architecture for PayPal and various roles at General Electric, the company said.
- The appointment comes in the midst of a turnaround, which in recent weeks has entailed the elimination of a significant slice of its global workforce. Last month the company announced 140 job cuts, or 15% of its global workforce, bringing the total planned staff cuts at Etsy this year to 230 positions, or 22% of its workforce, after layoffs announced in May.
Etsy is under pressure these days. The quirky marketplace has struggled since going public two years ago, as sellers and customers alike have complained that larger sellers have undermined its artisanal focus and as Amazon moved into its territory with Handmade at Amazon.
In May, private equity firms TPG Group Holdings Advisors and Dragoneer Investment Group revealed significant stakes in the company, which were purchased "on the belief that they were undervalued," and the firms noted in a Securities and Exchange filing dated May 4 that they had "contacted representatives of Etsy to offer to engage in discussions regarding strategic alternatives." That came after the marketplace retailer replaced Chad Dickerson with Josh Silverman as CEO, which may have been a response to hedge fund Black-and-White Capital, owner of 2% of Etsy’s shares, which had released two letters highlighting critical issues and necessary steps to address them.
The investors say they have been concerned with the steep deceleration of gross merchandise sales growth, poor corporate governance and a need to "explore strategic alternatives" to maximize shareholder value — presumably including a sale. In his statement on Monday, Silverman noted Fisher's "track record of scaling complex global platforms, his proven ability to guide transformation at leading tech companies and his deep understanding of consumer commerce," and said that he has already proven to be a valuable member of the team.