I’m sitting down to write this email not far from where I once sat down to write the first few lines of code for Shopify itself. Those lines of code started a company and sent it on a fascinating journey full of wonder, toil, success, failure, ambition, and above all else comradery. Being on a journey, surrounded by great teammates, doing difficult things is what it’s all about.
All this makes this email so much harder to write: the next part of the journey will involve fewer teammates than we have picked up along the way. Shopify has to go through a reduction in workforce that will see about 10% leave by the end of the day. Most of the impacted roles are in recruiting, support, and sales, and across the company we’re also eliminating over-specialized and duplicate roles, as well as some groups that were convenient to have but too far removed from building products. Emails will go out in the next few minutes that will clarify if your role was affected; those impacted will then have a meeting with a lead in their team.
For a company like ours this news will be difficult to digest. It will be even harder for those leaving today. I’ll share as many details as I can about how we got here and, for those that are leaving, what will happen next.
How we got here
When the Covid pandemic set in, almost all retail shifted online because of shelter-in-place orders. Demand for Shopify skyrocketed. To help merchants, we threw away our roadmaps and shipped everything that could possibly be helpful. It was hard, but we know for a fact that more merchants’ businesses survived the pandemic because of the work we did in this time and that’s exactly what our mission is about.
Shopify has always been a company that makes the big strategic bets our merchants demand of us – this is how we succeed. Before the pandemic, ecommerce growth had been steady and predictable. Was this surge to be a temporary effect or a new normal? And so, given what we saw, we placed another bet: We bet that the channel mix – the share of dollars that travel through ecommerce rather than physical retail – would permanently leap ahead by 5 or even 10 years. 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.
It’s now clear that bet didn’t pay off. What we see now is the mix reverting to roughly where pre-Covid data would have suggested it should be at this point. Still growing steadily, but it wasn’t a meaningful 5-year leap ahead. Our market share in ecommerce is a lot higher than it is in retail, so this matters. Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong. Now, we have to adjust. As a consequence, we have to say goodbye to some of you today and I’m deeply sorry for that.
To those leaving Shopify
Everyone will feel this news in their own way, but what’s universally true is that it will be hard for everyone. We want to support each of you through the coming weeks and months as much as possible, so we’re offering a generous severance package. Those affected today will get 16 weeks of severance pay, plus an additional week for every year of tenure at Shopify. We’ll remove any equity cliff, and extend any medical benefits.
Knowing that Shopify is just one stop on a career journey, we’d also like to help set everyone up for success as they take their next steps. We’ll offer outplacement services with access to career coaching, interviewing support, resume crafting, etc. And because every path taken requires some basics, we’ll continue to pay internet costs for the period, the home office furniture we provided is yours now, and while we’ll need to recover our hardware, we’re offering a kickstart allowance that can be used to buy new laptops. If you want, you can add your email addresses to a list that we will share with other companies looking for talent. And for those who find themselves drawn to the path of entrepreneurship, Shopify also covers a free account for everyone.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to each of you for everything you’ve given to support merchants and our mission of making commerce better for everyone.
Our opportunity is massive and it’s still early days for Shopify. Every team here is now either focused on building products or directly supporting those who do. Our customers are merchants, entrepreneurs, and small businesses owners – the bedrock of our economy and precisely those that are typically hit hardest during recessions. Most are already feeling it. We again have a clear objective in these challenging macro economic times, and we will use everything we’ve got to help them succeed and come out stronger. That’s our core mission.
The entrepreneurs we serve are remarkable individuals. They inspire us individually and as a company to be the best versions of ourselves. We’ve adapted many times, in many ways, during Shopify’s intense growth journey. Most of the adaptations we’ve had to make have been to grow into something bigger. This time we grow into something more focused, more driven, and more singular in mission. The times demand it of us, and we will rise to the occasion once again.