This week, thousands of people selling products on Etsy are on strike in protest of the company’s climbing fees. And what seems to be a fight in a small corner of the Internet is really one of the longest running battles in our digital world.
Etsy is one of the billions of internet businesses that bring people together to sell something and who might be interested in accepting their offer. For their role in connecting the two parties, these intermediaries collect a fee that can range from 15 to 30 percent of each sale. (Etsy charges are much lower.)
Technicians call these marketplaces and they are everywhere Most of Amazon’s e-commerce sales fees come from companies that charge independent traders whose cat toys and phone chargers we find and purchase on Amazon. Apple’s App Store, Airbnb, Restaurant Delivery Apps and Uber Hall are marketplaces that match the customer’s app, the house for rent, the food at the restaurant or the people who travel to the airport.
It is a constant in the digital world that these intermediaries are hated by the people and businesses that depend on them. Almost always, at least some app developers, restaurants, Etsy dog portrait creators, substack newsletter writers and other marketplace vendors believe that the fees are too high, the rules are not fair, they are being abused – or all of the above.
It is possible that this conflict is inevitable. In 2022, running your own business means almost always leaning on technical intermediaries that make your business possible but can make it even more difficult.
See, I have to admit that there is a point on both sides in this Etsy dispute – such as Apple developers’ displeasure with the company and Amazon merchants dissatisfied with the huge digital mall sales.
It is undeniable that Etsy, Amazon and Apple do a lot for those who sell things through them. Apart from Etsy, those who create dog portraits have to try to set up their own website or store and find customers themselves and deal with tasks like credit card processing and customer service delivery.
Etsy does all of this for them, in exchange for a fee that increases from 5 cents to 6.5 cents per dollar of sales. Businesses that are fighting Etsy have other differences with the company, including that it effectively penalizes individual business owners if they fail to respond immediately to potential customers and that company sellers have to pay Google to advertise their products. , Pinterest and Facebook which are more likely to drop their revenue
Etsy says some of the company’s approaches may be unpopular at the moment, but they will benefit sellers in the long run.
Sometimes those grips may seem blurry or abstract to us, but find yourself in those Etsy vendors, restaurants selling food through the Grubhub app, or app-making businesses for iPhones.
They like to find a bunch of customers in one place, but Etsy, Grubhub and Apple direct so much that they run their business, take a large chunk of their money and become more powerful from their work.
These differences are reflected in the prices we pay and the high demand for millions of people who try to make a living doing what they love.
One question that is often asked about disputes in the marketplace is whether there is a fair fee for people who sell Uber rides or dog portraits to charge them. But I also think that the imaginative technology industry is not imaginative enough to hunt for alternative ways of making money.
Almost all marketplaces charge commissions and often other fees when we buy something. Even in Metaverse, obviously, companies will make money by collecting commissions from people who sell virtual reality dudes. Is there another way, and will it be better?
A few years ago, an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs suggested that instead of fighting developers who might be reluctant to pay up to 30 percent for the sale of digital weapons in an iPhone game, Apple could recover its costs to help the app economy. Different ways. The analyst, Rod Hall, suggested that developers instead pay for some or all of the Apple technology that developers use to create and distribute iPhone apps.
This method will definitely cause a whole new set of problems. And it does not address the grievances of the iPhone developers or the protesting Etsy sellers who prefer a central place to sell their wares, but hates the fact that those marketplaces have so much power over how they run their business.
There is no magical ointment on the Internet for a permanent fight against middlemen like Apple and Etsy. But I appreciate Hall’s efforts to rethink how marketplaces generate revenue. It seems we can use more experimentation to bring peace to one of the most enduring conflicts on the Internet.
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Before we leave.
Ukraine says it has stopped Russian cyber-attacks on its power grid. My colleague Kate Conger writes that the revelation of sophisticated cyber attacks raises new concerns that the Russian government may increase its use of digital weapons in Ukraine and possibly the United States.
Related: Russia’s technology industry is facing a brain drain as thousands of workers flee the country. And Vice writes that Ukraine’s Twitch video streamers are bringing images of the war to Russian viewers.
This is the highest earning person in the United States: Technical billionaires, including Bill Gates and WhatsApp co-founder Jan Kum, are among the top 10 earners in the top 15 from 2013 to 2018, according to a recent report by Propaballica from Internal Revenue Service data. And because of the design of the US tax system, technology billionaires tend to pay better than other extremely rich people.
Bribes for office work: My co-workers have an interesting article that tech companies are throwing at workers – including Lizo concerts, window seats for everyone, free fried chicken and terrarium making classes – to bring them back to the office.
This The dog knows he was naughty to eat all the food in the house. (Although, he will completely do it again.)
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