The first time Josh Silverman addressed the staff of “Hello,” he said. “My name is Josh. I identify as male. My preferred pronouns are ‘him’ and ‘he.’ Most people just call me Josh.” It was May 3, and Mr. Silverman was speaking to a roomful of traumatized employees. The day before, Etsy had fired 80 people, the first big layoffs at the online marketplace for handmade and vintage arts and crafts. Among those ousted was Etsy’s beloved chief executive of six years, Chad Dickerson. Now Mr. Silverman — an Etsy board member but an unknown to most employees — stood in the Etsytorium, trying to win over a hostile crowd. His earnest introduction was an olive branch of sorts, an effort to signal that he was attuned to Etsy’s vibrant gay and transgender community, and would be respectful of the company’s distinctive culture. But to many in attendance, his remarks came off as tone deaf, and his inability to read the room foreshadowed sweeping changes that would soon transform Etsy. The drama began last November, when Mr. Silverman joined the Etsy board and began asking tough questions of management. Soon after that, an activist investor took a stake in Etsy… Read full this story
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