THE A-TEAM OF E-COMM
Meet The Five New Leaders Revolutionizing the E-commerce Industry
Years ago, consumers only knew a few powerful entrepreneurs and business owners in the e-commerce industry. But things have changed in the past decades and will continue to progress in the coming years as many companies have entered the industry.
When we want to learn about the man behind a company’s triumph, we check the company website or LinkedIn as the profile link will be from the biography. We read their achievements, hoping to learn something from their career advancements.
Starting a company where there are already a lot of dominators can be somewhat intimidating. But these five fearless individuals have successfully helped their companies be e-commerce leaders.
Guiding vision:“When you’re looking for socks or batteries or all the commodities needed in daily life, there are plenty of places that can ship them to you quickly. But there are many times in your life you want something to be special— something representing your personal sense of style or taste—for you or as a gift for a friend or relative. It’s those moments where I want people to think ‘There’s no place like Etsy.’”
Josh Silverman is the current CEO of Etsy, an American e-commerce company that focuses on handmade or vintage items.
Etsy was founded in 2005. It was a small company started by Robert Kalin, Chris Maguire, and Haim Schoppik, with Jared Tarbell joining later. Maria Thomas came aboard as chief operating officer in 2008, later became the CEO and then left the company in December 2009. With the company becoming bigger, Kalin resumed his role as CEO through July 2011, when he was fired and Chad Dickerson, the chief technology officer since 2008, was named CEO.
Before Josh Silverman came to Etsy, he had a long and fruitful career. He worked at ADAC Laboratories until resigning in1998. He worked at another establishment, which became Elite. In 2006, he became the CEO of a company owned by eBay. In 2008, he also became the CEO of Skype.
Silverman joined Etsy’s board in 2016. After poor first quarter results, Dickerson, who had been the longest serving Etsy CEO, was forced out. Silverman was appointed as the new chief executive officer in May 2017.
The company had some drawbacks before Silverman became the CEO. Despite the pressure, Silverman didn’t let the company down as it continued to rise.
They acquired Reverb, a music-based marketplace, in 2019.
After that, in 2020, they expanded their clothing line by offering masks to protect against COVID-19. Their share in about 24 million masks was around 11% of gross merchandise sales in the third quarter. During the initial stage of the COVID-19 surge, the company’s profit quadrupled.
And in 2019, they released a statement that they had agreed to acquire Depop, a shopping app.
This proves that Silverman continues to make the company bigger and better, making Etsy one of the most successful e-commerce companies.
Founder and CEO, Obsess
Guiding vision: “What we do is essentially experiential e-commerce, translating how retailers have gone from being purely transactional to experience based. We aim to take this a step further and create seamless omnichannel strategies that allow products to be part of any scenario. We make virtual stores for brands that are visual, immersive, interactive and discovery driven.”
Obsess was founded in July 2016 in New York. Despite being one of the youngest e-commerce companies, it has proven its dominance in the market in a short amount of time, thanks to the brilliance of its founder and CEO, Neha Singh.
Singh previously worked as a software development intern at Informatica, located in San Francisco, for three months. She moved to a different company and became an investment banking tech intern for Goldman Sachs in New York for three months.
She applied what she learned when she joined Google as a senior software engineer in 2005 and worked there for more than four years.
She started her career in the e-commerce industry when she joined AHAlife as a VP of Product & Engineering. She worked with the founders to create strategies that would increase the company’s business drive.
Vogue was the last company she joined before launching her own. She worked as the head of products for more than three years. She oversaw creating strategies to improve Vogue’s digital platform.
With her tremendous experience in the tech and e-commerce industries, she was able to change how we think about shopping. The company has worked with various brands, including luxury ones.
Their goal is to make the shopping experience of consumers more comfortable. They don’t need to go to the physical store to try the item. Thanks to augmented reality, you will see yourself wearing it on the screen. The shop also offers cosmetics from different brands.
Obsess has been doing it for years and will indeed dominate the market when it comes to adapting the metaverse.
Senior Vice President of CloudBlue Ingram Micro
Guiding vision: “As digital marketplaces rapidly become the route to market for ISVs [Independent Software Vendors], it’s vital for them to leverage tools that remove barriers to entry by accelerating and streamlining marketplace onboarding, maximizing their ability to get solutions in front of a growing, global audience.”
Tarik Faouzi, who has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, came to Ingram Micro from Tech Data. He is senior vice president of CloudBlue, which like Ingram Micro is headquartered in Irvine, California.
Faouzi is at the forefront of bringing cloud innovations to the industry. CloudBlue, a marketplace platform for everything-as-a-service solutions, accelerates e-commerce through hyper-efficiency, stability and simplicity.
CloudBlue has worked with various leading companies in the tech and e-commerce industries, such as Dell, Google, and T-Mobile.
When Faouzi rose to vice president, he was put in charge of the product roadmap of Cloud Marketplace-related products, making him one of the key people to Ingram Micro’s strategy and customer success.
Founder and CEO, BookMyShow
Guiding vision: “I have nothing against unicorns, it is a great validation to be valued at billion dollars plus. My only concern is that it should not be the only purpose. The purpose of business is to draw from society, create value and be valuable back to society.”
E-commerce isn’t just about fashion and tech. BookMyShow has opened the digital world for performances and concerts. Bookmyshow.com is the No. 1 online ticket booking source for any events in India.
You might not guess that given the company’s humble beginnings. Ashish Hemrajani started his career at J. Walter Thompson Co. as an account and client manager. After going on a vacation with his friends to Africa, he became motivated to start his own business.
He founded the entertainment and recreational services company Bigtree Entertainment in 1999 with Parikshit Dar and Rajesh Balpande. With Hemrajani seeing the need for an online ticketing platform in India, BookMyShow in February 2007 was spun out of Bigtree Entertainment, which now serves as the holding company for its ticketing, information, and analysis subsidiaries.
It was a bumpy ride getting to that point— Bookmyshow.com didn’t have much of an online presence at the start, but excellent management skills helped snare nearly $320,000 (USD) from the company’s first major investor, J.P Morgan.
Hemrajani was patient and waited for the market to catch up. His efforts never went in vain as the company became more popular with many people. Thanks to his excellent leadership, he won the prestigious Executive of the Year 2018 honor at The Ticketing Business Awards held at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, England.
He has said in recent interviews that the global pandemic caused BookMyShow to bottom out, as there were no shows or live performances to ticket, but the company bounced back as things opened back up. Bookmyshow.com has now expanded to other countries.
Aside from concerts, the company also caters to sporting events. And people don’t need to pay cash anymore. They can easily buy their tickets through the website or mobile app with debit or credit cards as well as digital banking services such as PayPal.
Guiding vision:“Entrepreneurship now is so much more accessible than it’s ever been. And technology is a massive catalyst for that. The internet is this new incredible city, in my mind, that is brand new, and it means that we’re all closer and we connect with more like-minded people and it’s so dynamic. So those examples of starting a brick-and-mortar store versus starting a digital store and being able to get information and pivot and adapt—it’s just the risk tolerance required is very different, which means that there’s no better time, maybe in the history of the planet, to be an entrepreneur than right now.”
Ottawa, Canada’s Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake opened the online snowboard shop Snowdevil in 2004. However, they became dissatisfied by the results and concentrated instead on the e-commerce platform they built and launched in June 2006: Shopify.
Lütke, who may very well be the only fortysomething billionaire on the planet nicknamed “Tobi,” is now the multinational e-commerce company’s CEO.
After finishing his studies at the University of Ottawa, Harley Finkelstein worked for a year at a Toronto law film. In 2009, he met Lütke, and the pair started discussing career opportunities at Shopify. Finkelstein became chief platform officer.
In December 2014, he was appointed a member of the board of C100, a support organization for Canada’s technology community that builds a bridge between the tech industry there and Silicon Valley.
Two years later, Finkelstein became Shopify’s chief operations officer, and a year after that he joined the board of CBC, Canada’s public broadcasting company. He rose to president of Shopify in September 2020, and the 38-year-old also serves as company spokesman.
E-commerce is here to stay. It will indeed become a larger industry in the future as we progress. People want to experience convenience through innovations. And that phenomenon is baked into these companies.
Some, if not all, of the e-commerce leaders we featured sustained hardships throughout their careers, but one thing is for sure: They never gave up pursuing their goals. And they were dedicated to ensuring their respective company’s success.
They deserve to be named e-commerce’s new leaders who will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, businessmen and employees.
Written by Owen Carter, Senior Account Manager at Plat.com
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