Why Etsy’s CEO Is Going After Amazon

Etsy’s executive chief is going head-to-head with Amazon.

On Tuesday, Josh Silverman penned a blog post on Medium, where he accused the e-commerce giant of taking steps to “wipe out its competitors.” In particular, he cited California’s “Consumer Protection” bill, or AB 3262, which would hold an online marketplace “strictly liable” for all damages caused by defective products to the same extent as brick-and-mortar retailers.

In the post, titled “A wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Silverman said that the bill would “embolden” big internet players like Amazon but ultimately “hobble” small and mid-sized online businesses — all the while failing to add protections beyond those that consumers already have under the law. He argued that Amazon’s support of the bill is “an abuse of market power play.”

“While the state of California is burning and no one is watching, Amazon has quietly signed up in support of AB 3262, and has been working back channels to redirect this legislation to their advantage,” he alleged. “Amazon’s goal is to be the only place to buy stuff online… Small businesses, struggling now more than ever, will ultimately bear the brunt of the overbearing burdens of AB 3262.”

Last week, Amazon voiced support for the bill in a post on its blog, Day One. Penned by Brian Huseman, who oversees public policy for the Americas, the Seattle-based company would back the consumer protection bill if it were to apply to “all online marketplaces regardless of their particular business models.”

“We share the California legislature’s goal of keeping consumers safe,” he added. “Injured consumers should be able to seek compensation regardless of how a particular online marketplace makes money.”

Just days later on Monday, lawmakers made another amendment to the bill. Following its approval by the California assembly, the state senate is expected to vote on AB 3262 this week.

Amazon continues to face pressure from regulators over its ability to police its own marketplace, which accommodates millions of third-party sellers. Concerns over counterfeit or stolen goods on its site have led rivals like Walmart and Target to help establish The Buy Safe America Coalition, an effort aimed at increasing the scrutiny of products that appear on online marketplaces and authenticating the identities of high-volume third-party sellers.

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