Is Shopify Canadian?

by | Feb 12, 2021

With eCommerce exploding in the last year due to Covid, a few names are standing tall amongst an ever-competitive market. One of the greatest success stories in the crowded pack of online giants is undoubtedly Shopify.

Doesn’t it feel strange to not be outdoors as much these days? Naturally, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the worldwide population, 2020 saw the migration from living outdoors freely to being cooped up indoors, and in fact; people have been at home now more than ever.  With this, we’ve seen a boom in all digital platforms, one prime example being the boost in e-commerce sales. 

Take Shopify for example, from a timeframe of March 2020 through to September 2020, Shopify’s stocks actually tripled taking their market value to $117 billion. During months when corporate giants have suffered, Shopify has only grown, and it’s safe to say one could consider them the new Kings of e-commerce worldwide (sorry eBay). 

It’s also interesting that few realize that this multi-billion company is actually Canadian.

A Canadian success story with a German twist 

First founded way back in 2004, Shopify was born in the Canadian capital under the brainchild of Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake, but it wasn’t at all a planned endeavour.  

What began as a quest to sell snowboarding equipment via an online store that they created, called Snowdevil, turned into a much bigger project. At the time, there weren’t many platforms available that met the two’s standards when it came to utilising an e-commerce store to sell their products. 

Arriving in Canada from Germany as a software programmer by trade in 2002, Lütke building the pre-cursor to Shopify in 2004 using Ruby on Rails and they launched their first e-commerce store in Ottawa two months later.  After the initial success of Snowdevil, the founders launched the first version of Shopify in 2006. 

puzzle with the national flag of Canada and Germany on wooden table

After the initial success of Snowdevil, the founders launched the first version of Shopify in 2006. 

Fast-forward three years later and Shopify was already in the process of new creations. In 2009, they created a new API that allowed developers to create their own integrated apps to sell on Shopify using this new programming interface.  2010 was a big year for Shopify releasing its first mobile app, and that same year they were named Ottawa’s Fastest-growing Business of the Year by the Ottawa Business Journal. 

With such success, they had the opportunity to partner with famous entrepreneurs such as Rich Branson whereby they created a competition on Shopify to see who could build the best business on the online platform. Coinciding with their success in 2010, the business welcomed outside financial investments of $22 billion over the 2010-2011 financial year period. 

In 2009, they created a new API that allowed developers to create their own integrated apps to sell on Shopify using this new programming interface.

From Ottawa to going public.

Continuing to rise with such a rapid success rate, by 2014 more than $100 million in investments had been received and 120,000 online retailers were already using the platform. 

Building on this, 2015 saw an exponential growth which only left them with one decision: to go public. 

Interested in the Shopify story? Learn about the full history here

The Giant keeps growing 

Recognizing how successful the platform had become, one of the biggest online retail giants Amazon decided to employ them as their preferred provider in 2015. The next few years saw the acquisition of Boltmade in 2016 (a design and website building software program), and the following year they acquired Oberlo. 2019 was another big year and the company developed its own Fulfillment Network which saw the creation of Shopify’s own delivery system. Today, Shopify’s stake in the major financial tech company, Affirm is worth $8 billion alone.

Coming back to the present day, 2020 saw the business get stronger and here’s why; during a time of worldwide uncertainty and a whole bunch of unexpected changes, Shopify have made room for these, and smartly. With the need for many small businesses to go online during 2020, Shopify made sure they were the platform for this. 

In fact, crazily, unlike many large corporate businesses and companies, they’ve actually had to end up hiring more employees in Vancouver. Still very much a Canadian-run business, through all the success its seen its still headquartered in Vancouver and is spearheaded by original founder and now CEO Tobias Lütke. 

As the second-largest company in Canada, this truly is a Canuck success story with a German twist. 

Close up of Canadian flag on computer keyboard