Etsy: Sharing Their Experiences for the Greater Good - a SlideShare case study

May 30, 2012

Mike BrittainIn an interview, Mike Brittain, Director of Engineering at Etsy, discusses how they use SlideShare to give back to the industry. By extending the life of the content they develop for discrete events through their SlideShare Network they can share what their engineering teams have done to help others learn and benefit from their experiences.

Etsy is the marketplace we make together. Etsy enables people anywhere to easily build and directly buy from independent, creative businesses, with 15 million members and 875,000 sellers in over 150 countries. In 2011, Etsy sellers grossed more than $525 million in sales. Over 40 million people visit the site each month. Etsy’s mission is to empower people to change the way the global economy works.

They are not only changing the way business is conducted, they are also changing the way development is done. On an average day, Etsy’s engineering team releases over 40 changes to their website.

“That pace is new for development,” Brittain explained. “We run very quickly, using a process referred to as Continuous Deployment. Every one of our engineers has access to deploy changes to our production website every day. This is what you typically see in small start-ups, but is less common in teams as large as ours, where we have over 100 engineers involved. We have been able to apply the Continuous Development process to a large team and continue to be successful at building new products for the Etsy marketplace.”

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It’s why so many companies are interested in hearing from Etsy engineers. “A lot of our speaker content is focused on our engineering processes and tools,” described Brittain. “We share how we put it in place and try to be fairly instructive on how others may be able to operate their teams in a similar fashion.”

While some may consider these processes the “secret sauce” of a successful company and try to hold onto it for themselves, Etsy believes it is best to share. “It’s important that our industry grows,” said Brittain, “and it doesn’t really grow without sharing. We have an engineering culture that is interested in open source. We believe in contributing back, extending open source tools, and exchanging ideas for the greater good.”

To that end, a number of Etsy’s engineers have been speaking at conferences; once the talk is over, they frequently want to share the content with a larger audience, who may be able to benefit from it – this is where SlideShare steps in to help.

“The larger story often occurs after the talk has happened,” explained Brittain. “The ongoing reach we get from publishing these materials on SlideShare and sharing them through social media is a big plus. It helps us reach a much larger audience, keeping the conversation going after the conference or event, while also growing the brand of Etsy’s engineering culture.”

It’s the primary tool Etsy uses to distribute materials from presentations and conferences. They cite SlideShare’s simplicity as its greatest benefit. “It’s clean – it’s a really simple way to publish slides, from a variety of formats. It’s pretty straightforward,” described Brittain. Etsy can send users a single URL, with no need for any additional software, and share all the presentations and other content that best tell their engineering story. Plus, they can use SlideShare’s analytics to understand who is viewing their content and what they are most interested in seeing.

Through the SlideShare Network, Etsy also enables more than 20 of their engineers to post content directly to their own accounts, which is automatically syndicated to the Network at This helps visitors discover the Etsy brand through its people and engage with the company in a much more personal way. As a result, using the Network, Etsy can build equity in their engineering brand, while their engineers strengthen their professional identity.

“Writing the content for the audiences we are talking to real-time and then sharing the content afterwards is a benefit we get because a site like SlideShare exists.” Brittain continued, “it’s also great for our recruiting efforts. We’ve had job candidates referring to slide decks that were published on SlideShare about Etsy's culture and technology.

We have also had employees, who spoke at an event and then posted materials to SlideShare, see the number of presentation views and recognize that people outside of Etsy care about what they are talking about, which makes a difference in their outlook on speaking again. In addition, we have had folks solicit speakers from Etsy because they feel the content they found on SlideShare would be a benefit to the folks on their own engineering teams – it’s great marketing for our own technology and culture.”

Brittain summed up, “having our content in one place, on the SlideShare Network, is a benefit to us. The cumulative story of these engineering presentations is greater than that of each individual deck. We would definitely recommend people use it for sharing their content online.” With SlideShare, Etsy is able to share their knowledge with engineers everywhere. This helps Etsy not only bring heart to commerce, but also innovation to development, in their efforts to make the world more fair, sustainable, and fun.

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