Dec 16, 2022 - Technology

Etsy CEO: Caregiver support helps the economy

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman during an interview in 2018 smiling and holding a microphone

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman is carrying a message to Capitol Hill about something he thinks will grow the economy by supporting the work of independent contractors: Federal support for caregiving.

Driving the news: Silverman met with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill last week to press them on the issue, he told Axios in an exclusive interview.

  • Etsy is pushing for better federal protections for people who make a living running businesses online, highlighting their lack of benefits compared to employees of traditional jobs who often receive paid leave and full health coverage.
  • "Our sellers tell us that caregiving is one of the main things that keeps them from growing their business," Silverman said.

Between the lines: Gig economy jobs, which typically don't have health care and other benefits, can be a tough proposition. Support for things like government-supported child care and family leave that don't rely on employer benefits can make such jobs more attractive.

  • "If [one of our sellers] gets sick, there's no other person to fill in for you that day, revenue just stops," Silverman said.
  • "The needs of a micro business are very different than the needs of a small business. That's personal trainers, that's contractors, that's Etsy sellers... It's a large and growing part of our economy and we feel the need to represent that community."

What they're saying: "We feel like it's very important to get to some form of federal support for caregiving, because it's good for our economy, it's not just good policy," Silverman said.

  • He said he's talking to lawmakers along with Biden administration officials about caregiving support proposals, pressing that Etsy sellers are in "99% of congressional districts" with political leanings that "look just like the rest of the country."

What to watch: Silverman is also pushing for passage of the INFORM Act, a bill that would direct online marketplaces to authenticate the credentials of high-volume sellers to fight scams and fraud.

  • He's also watching the upcoming Supreme Court cases that could drastically change how companies are held liable for third-party content, along with legislation in Florida and Texas that would force companies to carry content.
  • "We care a ton about our brand. We do not want misinformation on our brand. We do not hate speech on our brand," Silverman said. "We do not want anything that incites violence on our brand... We think it's important that our brand be allowed to stand for what it stands for."
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