Microbusinesses are becoming a way of life for more and more people; these very small businesses are often sole proprietorships or have just a few employees, yet can provide meaningful household income for millions of people. Digital platforms make many of these businesses possible, and companies like Etsy and GoDaddy have been an essential backbone for microbusinesses, especially during the pandemic (Etsy sellers contributed $13 billion and almost 3 million jobs to the economy last year.)

For this NOW episode, Brown Advisory technology analyst and portfolio manager Emmy Wachtmeister sat down with Althea Erickson, VP of Global Public Policy & Impact at Etsy, and Alex Rosen, Director of GoDaddy's Venture Forward project, to discuss the evolution of microbusinesses, and what they mean for the growth and resilience of our communities. Later, David Powell, co-portfolio manager of Brown Advisory's Large-Cap Sustainable Growth strategy, joined Emmy to discuss takeaways for investors (36:18).


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Episode Introduction

Emmy Wachtmeister: Venture capital – and the high-growth entrepreneurs and companies that are funded with venture capital – get a lot of headlines. But there is an important category of entrepreneurs that don’t get as much attention – but that contributes significantly to economic growth. These are entrepreneurs who run microbusinesses. They have fewer than 10 employees – and often they are solopreneurs. Not only do these entrepreneurs drive economic growth, but they also contribute meaningfully to the health and well-being of their local communities.

In the past these microbusinesses would have built their companies from solely local customers- selling their goods at a farmers market or craft fair, or opening a brick and mortar shop. But online platforms – like Etsy and GoDaddy – mean these entrepreneurs can access literally a world of potential customers, no matter where they are located. And these small, but “global” businesses contribute meaningfully to the growth and vibrancy of their local communities.

I’m Emmy Wachtmeister. I’m a partner at Brown Advisory, an equity analyst covering software companies, and the Associate Portfolio Manager of our Mid-Cap Growth strategy. I wanted to explore this world of microbusinesses, so I sat down with two experts – Althea Erickson, VP of Global Public Policy & Impact at Etsy, and Alex Rosen, Director of GoDaddy’s Venture Forward group. Etsy’s community of more than 4 million sellers and GoDaddy’s 20 million customers – or “everyday entrepreneurs” – give these companies an unusual window into the economic power of microbusinesses.

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Althea Erickson

Althea Erickson

VP, Global Public Policy & Impact, Etsy

Althea Erickson is the head advocacy and impact at Etsy, the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. Althea leads Etsy's efforts to advance public policies that make it easier for Etsy sellers to start and grow their creative businesses. She is responsible for developing and advancing Etsy’s position on portable benefits and economic security for the self-employed, tax and regulatory simplification, content moderation, net neutrality, and global trade, among others. Althea also guides the execution of Etsy’s broader impact strategy, including delivering on its economic, social, and environmental impact commitments and its internal and external accountability strategy. Prior to joining Etsy, Althea was the advocacy and policy director at Freelancers Union, where she led its successful campaign to repeal unfair tax laws, promoted legislation to protect freelancers from unpaid wages, and advocated for member-driven health insurance. Previously, Althea worked at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she focused on strategies to build economic security within the US workforce. She has a B.A in government and public policy from Wesleyan University.
Alex Rosen

Alex Rosen

Director of Venture Forward, GoDaddy

Alexandra Rosen is Director of Venture Forward at GoDaddy, an initiative that helps advocate on behalf of microbusiness entrepreneurs by quantifying and communicating their impact on the economy. Alexandra has helped companies from Fortune 500 to startups bring value to customers and the market through new endeavors, authentic presence and unique programs. Prior to GoDaddy, she managed several global partnerships for Cisco, including strategy, research, and programs for the Rio 2016 Olympics and Live Nation. She began her career at Google in the early days of online marketing. Passionate about empowering people and businesses through technology and creativity, Alexandra is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator. She completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and her MBA at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.



Emmy Wachtmeister, CFA

Emmy Wachtmeister, CFA

Equity Research Analyst, Brown Advisory

Emmy is a partner and equity research analyst at Brown Advisory. She focuses primarily on the software and services companies in the Technology sector. Prior to joining the firm, Emmy worked in equity research at Morgan Stanley.


Investment Commentary

David Powell, CFA

David Powell, CFA

Portfolio Manager, Brown Advisory

David is a co-portfolio manager of the Large-Cap Sustainable Growth strategy. He joined Brown Advisory in 1999 as an equity research analyst with responsibility for identifying and recommending investment opportunities in the industrials and energy sectors. Prior to joining the firm, David held a position in investor relations at T. Rowe Price.



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