#44 Etsy’s Chu-Cheng Hsieh on Using Data to Develop a Thriving Marketplace

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As the world continues to fill with impersonal, factory-machined goods, so increases the desire to see and feel more human creativity in the items we use in our lives. Etsy, a community marketplace for creative goods, was designed to help people sell their unique and homemade items online. The company continues to innovate and transform the small-business world, leading by focusing on innovation in their technology. 

Today’s guest, Chu-Cheng Hsieh, is the first Chief Data Officer at Etsy. On this episode, Chu-Cheng Hsieh joins Cindi to discuss his unique perspective on helping build a data-driven organization from the ground up and how he’s fostered a culture of experimentation that has led to rapid growth and transformation within the company. He also dives into trends such as machine learning and data observability and explains some of the most helpful mental frameworks he’s learned in his life and career.

Key Takeaways

  • Check human intuition with data: Your gut feeling might be right, but in today’s world it’s critical to remember the importance of being able to back up your thinking and your decisions with facts. Hsieh emphasizes the importance of trusting the data that’s in front of you, even if the answer goes against decades of personal experience.
  • Create a ‘regret minimization framework’: Popularized by Jeff Bezos, the ‘regret minimization framework’ is a way to help you more clearly define what career decisions you should make. It encourages the thinker to imagine being at the end of their life, looking back at what they’ve done, and asking themselves, “Is that really the life story I want to have?”
  • Invest in insights: Hsieh shares that “You don’t want to judge your success based on just [the] outcome. You should judge your success based on the decision quality.” By investing in thoughtful decision-making, you can increase the probability of success, even when you don’t have all the facts or data.




Chu-Cheng Hsieh manages the data org across Etsy globally, including engineering, data science, and machine learning. Partnering with Etsy’s product and business executives, he develops the data strategy, represents data science, and drives high-impact decisions. He is specialised in search engine, recommendation systems, and machine learning technology. His primary responsibility is to deliver strategic and creative data science approaches that help achieve Etsy’s mission and goals.

He received a PhD in computer science from UCLA, and has two master degrees. In his leisure time, he enjoys innovating and collaborating with academic researchers. He has brought cutting-edge research into products. He publishes papers in top-tier conferences, such as WWW, SIGIR, KDD, and enjoys giving talks/keynotes at a variety of academic or industrial conferences on information retrieval, recommendation systems, and data mining.

Get even more insights from data and analytics leaders like Chu-Cheng on The Data Chief



Episode 48