Notes from Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke’s recent interview

Shopify’s founder and CEO Tobias “Tobi” Lütke did recently around a 90-minute interview with the popular This Week in Startups -podcast. The entire interview is an interesting listen, but from below you can find a list of some things that we thought were particularly interesting. For some of the listed highlights of the interview we have added our own comment.

  • When starting out he underestimated the potential of Shopify. – Comment: This is not that surprising given that Shopify has grown in about 15 years to be a $100+ billion company.
  • Even though Amazon can be considered to be almost a direct competitor of Shopify, Lütke sees that Amazon can be a very good sales channel for some products.
  • When he was initially trying to raise venture funding from Silicon Valley for Shopify, he got push back because people didn’t believe the market was big enough. In concrete terms, an investor had apparently estimated that there was room for maybe 40 000 stores. Comment: In 2021 there are over 1.7 million Shopify stores.
  • He has realized that making ecommerce / Shopify’s platform simpler is good for demand. – Comment: This is probably a good thing to keep in mind also when one operates their own ecommerce store.
  • According to Lütke, allowing people to make plugins for Shopify was a major inflection point on the company’s journey. – Comment: Allowing developers to create plugins for Shopify has also been great for Shopify users, as there are now over 5 000 Shopify plugins.
  • Lütke clearly considered Shopify’s fulfillment network important for the company.
  • In the period from Black Friday to and including Cyber Monday (presumably 2020) Shopify stores generated over $5 billion in revenue.
  • Lütke finds his work / Shopify meaningful as Shopify is able to help small businesses.
  • According to Lütke the entire retail sector got pulled forward 5 or 10 years from 2019 to 2020.
  • And according to Lütke, Shopify’s number one priority is to build the best possible product and the second priority is to generate revenue to do more of the number one priority. – Comment: This order of priorities is probably what has made Shopify’s ecommerce platform so good.