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Shopify CEO discouraging staff from side hustles that divert attention from company

October 3, 2023
The Canadian Press

Arpan Podduturi, Shopify’s Director of Product, Retail at the company’s annual partner conference in Toronto. Photo: Shopify

The chief executive of Shopify Inc. is discouraging staff from taking on side gigs that divert their attention away from the company.

Tobi Lutke says in a memo circulated to staff that the Ottawa-based e-commerce company’s mission to build world-class software for millions of merchants requires their unshared attention.

He says he felt like he was on the Truman Show when he recently learned the company was handing out offer letters to prospective hires encouraging side gigs.

He says staff should still feel free to run a Shopify story to learn about the company’s products, but if it grows, he wants them to hire help or become a full-time entrepreneur.


Lutke says occasional side hustles like teaching a weekend yoga class or coaching kids soccer once or twice a week aren’t the kind of activities he’s concerned about.

Lutke’s memo comes after the company laid off thousands of workers over the last two years, saying it had misjudged how lasting the growth of e-commerce would be following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, Shopify president Harley Finkelstein co-founded Firebelly Tea and co-hosts Jewish entrepreneurs podcast Big Shot with DavidsTea founder David Segal.

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