May 2, 2017 / 8:55 PM / in 7 months

E-commerce site Etsy replaces CEO, cuts staff as earnings miss

(Reuters) - Etsy Inc (ETSY.O), an e-commerce site for handmade goods, on Tuesday said its chief executive would step down as it reported first-quarter profit below expectations and faced investor pressure to change course.

Shares nosedived 17 percent in after-hours trading.

Etsy said Chief Executive Chad Dickerson, who shepherded the company through its initial public offering two years ago, would be replaced by board member and former eBay Inc (EBAY.O) executive Josh Silverman this week.

The company also said it would cut about 80 jobs, or 8 percent of its workforce.

While Etsy continues to ride the wave of commerce shifting online, growth has slowed of gross merchandise sales, the value of items sold on its site and a key metric. Inc (AMZN.O) has opened a marketplace for handmade goods, too, though Etsy has claimed its wider selection of artisanal goods is keeping the e-commerce juggernaut at bay.

Etsy said it failed to sell to as many visitors to its website as anticipated in the first quarter. Revenue of $96.9 million, up 18 percent from the year prior, came in below the $98.4 million analysts were expecting on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Etsy cited slower consumer spending growth, but said its analysis of why February sales were soft was not yet complete. The company said it was not offering a routine financial forecast this week because of the management transition.

“That’s creating a level of uncertainly that the market’s uncomfortable with,” said Maxim Group analyst Tom Forte.

    Costs jumped as a percentage of revenue due to a brand campaign and higher employee expenses, Etsy said.

    Incoming chief Silverman said on a call with analysts that marketing would continue to be an important investment going forward.

    Including $2.1 million in interest expense and other non-cash charges associated with Etsy’s new headquarters, the company lost $421,000 in the first quarter after earning $1.2 million a year prior. Analysts on average had expected earnings per share of 1 cent.

    Etsy said long-time director Fred Wilson will take over the board’s chairmanship from Dickerson. One of the company’s shareholders, black-and-white capital LP, earlier on Tuesday called on Etsy to explore a sale and to separate the roles of chairman and CEO.

    Among other criticisms by black-and-white, which said it owns 2 percent of Etsy, is that the website’s search functionality is poor. Etsy said on Tuesday it is working to improve this.

    Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler

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