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Figures of Progress: Matthew Stinchcomb, VP of Values and Impact, Etsy Figures of Progress: Matthew Stinchcomb, VP of Values and Impact, Etsy
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Figures of Progress: Matthew Stinchcomb, VP of Values and Impact, Etsy

by GOOD Partner

February 19, 2013

GOOD and IBM have teamed up to bring you Figures of Progress, our new platform that explores the different ways that information has revolutionized our world. Through videos, story profiles, and infographics, we're sharing stories about the power of data and how today's leaders in business, city government and nonprofits are finding innovative ways to use it. Here's our latest Figure of Progress interview.

Matthew Stinchcomb oversees Etsy's strategic brand stewardship and social responsibility programs. Founded in 2005, Etsy provides a platform for creators and curators to easily market and sell their products globally. More than 800,000 shops offer millions of unique handmade and vintage goods and supplies to more than 40 million people each month. Etsy is based in Brooklyn, NY. Stinchcomb has worked in digital media since 1997, and has been at Etsy since its earliest days. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Benedikta and toddler son, Francis.

GOOD: As an industry leader, what most influenced you on the road to your current position?

Matthew Stinchcomb: In 2007, Linda Ligon, founder of Interweave magazine, gave me Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher. About the same time, Rob Kalin, Etsy's founder, gave me Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. Both books made me realize that Etsy had the potential to help millions of small companies build a more fulfilling and lasting world. They also instilled in me an urgent and ardent belief that corporations must become a force for addressing the many social and ecological challenges facing the world today.

GOOD: What type of data and technology would you consider the most valuable to your company and what are you able to do with these types of data?

MS: Last year Etsy became a Certified B Corporation. The evaluation process gave us a quantifiable way to evaluate our values and impact work. Stemming from that we developed a system to assess the overall well-being of our employees, and have also done a great deal of work to calculate the overall ecological footprint of our company. We now have quantifiable ways to measure all these efforts, and prioritize company decisions against non-financial metrics.

GOOD: How has data changed and informed the way you can interact with customers and improve your customer service?

MS: Data affects almost every aspect of the way that people interact with Etsy, in ways that they can see and behind the scenes. Broadly speaking, we experiment, measure and make changes to the site based on trends or patterns that we observe. To maintain the integrity of the marketplace we use scores of data to create algorithms that help our Marketplace Integrity and Trust and Safety teams identify, block, or remove items that may not be simpatico with our policies. This helps our business stay true to our values even while growing big.

GOOD: What are the qualities and skill sets that you believe future successful leaders will need to have?

MS: To meet the ecological, economic, and social challenges of the future will require equanimity, diligence, and an unflagging belief that a more connected, joyful, and healthy world is achievable.

GOOD: What is your greatest hope for how your work can influence positive change in our world?

MS: My hope is that we will be an inspiration to and provide a blueprint for other companies and individuals who believe that success need not come at the expense of people or the planet, nor be measured solely in dollars and cents.  

Read more from leaders like Stinchcomb at Figures of Progress, including interviews with Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America; Adam Brotman, chief digital officer of Starbucks;  Rachel Sterne, CIO of the city of New York; and Oliver Hurst-Hiller, CTO of Donorschoose.org.

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