Thinking About Thinking

How CSN Stores Is Educating And Transforming Boston

Posted in Organizations, Technology by larrycheng on May 10, 2011

With increasing frequency, I hear about people in the Boston community going to work at CSN Stores.  This is the mega furniture and home goods e-commerce company that everybody likes to describe as “the biggest e-commerce company you’ve never heard of” – even though now I think everyone’s heard about them.  It used to be once every 6 months, I’d come across someone joining the Boston-based company.  But, over the past 2 years, it’s increased to about once every 3-4 weeks.

Interestingly, there are some common characteristics of the people joining CSN Stores.  They are young, bright, well-educated – and perhaps most conspicuously, they have no e-commerce experience (how could they being in Boston?).  And, that’s why CSN Stores could be transformative for this town.  You have former private equity professionals, recent college grads, rising stars in corporate america, and other walks of life all going to CSN Stores to learn the nitty gritty of building an e-commerce business from a company that is succeeding to the tune of $380M of revenue growing 56% per year. 

In the same way DoubleClick taught a generation of New Yorkers about online advertising and fundamentally transformed the start-up community in that region, CSN Stores could teach a generation of Bostonians about e-commerce.  I say “could” because the story of CSN Stores is still being written.  If CSN Stores stays independent, goes public, and grows from ~1,000 employees to 10,000+ employees.  I fully expect that 5-10 years from now, the legacy of CSN Stores will be a vibrant community of next-generation e-commerce companies started by CSN alumni.  And, that’s exactly what Boston needs.