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‘I got this wrong:’ Shopify CEO announces plan to layoff 10 per cent of staff

July 26, 2022
The Canadian Press

Photo: Shopify
By Tara Deschamps

Canadian tech giant Shopify Inc. will lay off 10 per cent of its workforce Tuesday because the company misjudged the growth of e-commerce.

The Ottawa e-commerce company’s chief executive Tobi Lutke said in a blog post that most of the staff impacted by the cut work in recruiting, support and sales.

Shopify will also eliminate “overspecialized and duplicate” roles as well as groups that Lutke said were “convenient to have but too far removed from building products.”

Shift from brick-and-mortar to online

The company is carrying out the cuts because the COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in demand for Shopify’s software as consumers shifted to making a higher number of purchases online, Lutke said.


Shopify bet the amount of shopping people did online instead of at brick-and-mortar retailers would leap ahead by five or 10 years from pre-pandemic predictions.

“We couldn’t know for sure at the time, but we knew that if there was a chance that this was true, we would have to expand the company to match,” Lutke said.

“It’s now clear that bet didn’t pay off.”

Shopify has recently seen people are reverting to pre-pandemic shopping habits. While e-commerce is still growing steady, Lutke said it doesn’t amount to a five-year leap ahead, forcing Shopify to make cuts.

“Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong. Now, we have to adjust,” said Lutke.

“As a consequence, we have to say goodbye to some of you today and I’m deeply sorry for that.”

Other firms cutting staff

Shopify is not alone in laying off workers. Over the last few months, Wealthsimple, Klarna, Twitter and Netflix have all shed staff as investor exuberance around tech stocks has faded, inflation has soared to an almost 40-year high and recession rumours have loomed.

Data aggregator Layoffs.fyi has counted 401 startups that have laid off a collective 57,552 employees so far this year.

Amid a broad market sell-off that has particularly weighed on the tech sector, the price of Shopify’s stock has sunk more than 70 per cent since its late 2021 peak of $2,228.73. It sat at $40.40 in mid-morning trading Tuesday.

Those affected by Tuesday’s layoff will get 16 weeks of severance pay, plus an additional week for every year of tenure at Shopify. The company will also remove any equity cliff – a minimum amount of period workers have to stay at a company before they can start receiving equity.

Laid off workers will get access to career coaching, interviewing support, resume crafting services and Shopify will cover some of their internet costs during the severance period.

Workers will also be able to keep their home office furniture the company gave them a stipend for earlier in the pandemic and will give a “kick-start allowance” that can be used to buy new laptops.

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