Karl Marx Would Have Liked Teespring

“Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.” Karl Marx, 1848

Karl Marx postulated that the worker would stand on the production line and become alienated (Entfremdung), eventually losing all awareness of not only the total product process but especially of their own connection and self-identity as they were non-stop producing part #326 all day long. Since workers didn’t own the means of production, they were shackled to the production line, earned a small part of the value, and had little chance of moving up the hierarchy. The idea of starting their own companies or founding their own businesses was not even worth daydreaming about.

Well, a little company called Teespring enables anyone with a little creativity, a few friends, or a deep passion to build a serious business.

A group of nurses raised over $200,000 dollars for their cause with a hoodie campaign: “Cute enough to stop your heart, skilled enough to restart it”. But more importantly, it’s not a one-time thing: The campaign is re-launchable in minutes, and has been run successfully over 30 times. Meanwhile, a store manager making $60,000 decided to become a Teespring entrepreneur. Today, he’s making over $500,000 using the sales and training tools available there, and has joined the hundreds of people making over six figures a year on the Teespring platform.

Those are just two stories. There are thousands of Teespring entrepreneurs that now have a creative voice, many of whom have never been entrepreneurs before. No upfront money, business school connections, or software programming required. All that’s required is will and creativity.

On the consumer side, people love the Teespring buying experience. A stunning 25% of shoppers re-socialize their purchases with friends in different social media — a sharing rate that’s off the charts for e-commerce businesses.

Under Walker Williams’ and Evan Stites-Clayton’s leadership, Teespring has established a large and growing economy — to date, the company has shipped over six million products to more than 80 countries.

This year alone, 1 in every 75 Americans have bought a Teespring product.

Teespring is starting with t-shirts but that is only the beginning — the company plans many new products in the coming months and years, and will continue to expand its platform globally. That’s why Khosla Ventures is leading the Series B round of funding and Keith Rabois is joining Evan, Walker, Sam Altman, and me on the board.

I think Marx would be pleased if he were alive to witness Teespring enabling anyone to make money and contribute to a new and bigger economy. While many people have come from “nothing” and made a lot, the “many” are in reality far too few. Most still find the path to creating their own businesses and increasing their income to be difficult and intimidating. With Teespring, those chains can be broken. The best part is that because it is a complete, end-to-end production platform that provides all the necessary software, design tools, and distribution, Teespring puts any potential entrepreneur in business instantly. Instead of being dependent on the means of production, people are empowered to create their own businesses on top of it — and more importantly, capture that value for themselves.

That’s why Teespring was my first investment with Andreessen Horowitz one year ago, and I could not be more excited to see what Teespring enables all of us to create next.


image: credit Braldt Bralds /  source Wikia (Creative Commons Attribution license)




The views expressed here are those of the individual AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) personnel quoted and are not the views of a16z or its affiliates. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by a16z. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, a16z has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation.

This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by a16z. (An offering to invest in an a16z fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Andreessen Horowitz (excluding investments and certain publicly traded cryptocurrencies/ digital assets for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly) is available at https://a16z.com/investments/.

Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see https://a16z.com/disclosures for additional important information.

Want more a16z?

Sign up to our new marketplaces newsletter for more