Shopify is both a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario and the name of its computer software platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems.
The Shopify company was founded in 2004, and its software platform was initially based on earlier software written by its founders for their online snowboard store. The company reports that it has more than 500,000 merchants using its platform, with total gross merchandise volume exceeding $40 billion.
Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake after attempting to open Snowdevil, an online store for snowboarding equipment. Unsatisfied with the existing e-commerce products on the market, Lütke, a computer programmer by trade, decided to build his own.
Lütke used the open source web application framework Ruby on Rails to build Snowdevil's online store, and launched it after two months of development. The Snowdevil founders launched the platform as Shopify in June 2006.
In June 2009, Shopify launched an API platform and App Store. The API allows developers to create applications for Shopify online stores and then sell them on the Shopify App Store. Several companies have developed apps that integrate with the Shopify platform.
A Shopify window display in north London.
In April 2010, Shopify launched a free mobile app on the Apple App Store. The app lets Shopify store owners view and manage their stores from iOS mobile devices. In 2010, Shopify started its Build-A-Business competition, in which participants create a business using its commerce platform. The winners of the competition receive cash prizes and mentorship from entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, Eric Ries and others. Shopify was named Ottawa's Fastest Growing Company by the Ottawa Business Journal in 2010. The company received $7 million from an initial series A round of venture capital financing in December 2010. Its Series B round generated $15 million in October 2011.
In February 2012, Shopify acquired Select Start Studios Inc ("S3"), a mobile software developer, along with 20 of the company's mobile engineers and designers. In August 2013, Shopify acquired Jet Cooper, a 25-person design studio based in Toronto.
In August 2013, Shopify announced the launch of Shopify Payments, which allowed merchants to accept credit cards without requiring a third party payment gateway. The company also announced the launch of an iPad-centric point of sale system. It uses an iPad to accept payments from debit and credit cards. The company received $100 million in Series C funding in December 2013.
By 2014, the platform hosted approximately 120,000 online retailers, and was listed as #3 in Deloitte's Fast50 in Canada, as well as #7 in Deloitte's Fast 500 of North America. Shopify earned $105 million in revenue in 2014, twice as much as it raised the previous year.
On April 14, 2015, Shopify filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols "SHOP" and "SH" respectively. Shopify went public on May 21, 2015, and in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, started trading at $28, more than 60% higher than its USD$17 offering price, with its IPO raising more than $131 million.
In September 2015, Amazon.com announced it would be closing its Amazon Webstore service for merchants, and had selected Shopify as the preferred migration provider; Shopify's shares jumped more than 20% upon the news.
On October 3, 2016, Shopify acquired Boltmade. In November 2016, Shopify partnered with Paystack which allowed Nigerian online retailers to accept payments from customers around the world. On November 22, 2016, Shopify launched Frenzy, a mobile app that improves flash sales. On December 5, 2016, Shopify acquired Toronto-based mobile product development studio Tiny Hearts. The Tiny Hearts building has been turned into a Shopify research and development office.
In January 2017, Shopify announced integration with Amazon that would allow merchants to sell on Amazon from their Shopify stores. Shopify's stock rose almost 10% upon this announcement.
In April 2017, Shopify introduced a Bluetooth enabled debit and credit card reader for brick and mortar retail purchases.
Shopify has been well received by tech website CNET, which said the platform is "clean, simple, and easy-to-use." The service has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal,The New York Times,The Vancouver Sun,The Financial Post, TechCrunch, and Mashable.
Shopify was included in Fast Company's list of Most Innovative Companies of 2012. In 2013, Shopify was included on CNBC's Disrupter 50 list. The company's CEO, Tobias Lütke, won The Globe and Mail's CEO of the Year in 2014.
In 2017, Shopify was criticizedBreitbart News to host a shop on their platform. Shopify spokesperson Sheryl So responded that "Shopify is a common carrier, which means that if a merchant's business and the products it sells are legal in the jurisdiction where it is operating, the merchant is permitted on Shopify."  Shopify's CEO, Tobias Lütke, also responded to the criticism, saying "refusing to do business with the site would constitute a violation of free speech".
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