Several years ago, I was a newbie to SXSW Interactive and, feeling a little lost, bounced from party to party. Mashable was a mob scene. Yahoo! was a geek frat party. Then, I stumbled into a party with this mellow, happy vibe. A group of cherubic women greated me at the door: “Hi, welcome to the Etsy party.” I proceeded to meet some of the kindest, most creative entrepreneurs I’ve ever encountered.
Etsy's blog is as charming and approachable as its site.
The Etsy business model aggregates micro-businesses into a single marketplace, and those millions of little transactions add up. This year, Etsy is expected to surpass $1 billion in sales transactions, according to CEO Chad Dickerson. The total sales are impressive. But the velocity of their growth is even more so: every day more artisans and crafters sell their wares through the site and more people consider Etsy a destination for gifts and bespoke clothing.
Their success is powerful proof that the next wave of RenGen are finding ways to make money in an economy that continually grows a consumer appetite for hand-crafted, custom objects.
The economy of mutual gain is certainly where the future of e-commerce is heading. And artists seem to be leading the way. Consider Bandcamp's mega-watt growth, as yet another example.
It thrills me to no end is to watch this business model become THE model for the web. Everyone wins. It’s a community. It’s cooperative. It’s the future.
As Redesigning Leadership co-author John Maeda has so eloquently argued, artists are forging a new economic reality. And their quiet, effective success will become a source of leadership that is creative, not destructive.
If the last century was built on the bedrock of the military industrial complex, the future world may well shape us as something that derives from our impulse to create.