The Historical past of Shopify (+ Who Owns Shopify At this time in 2023?)

In case you are studying this, you’ve most likely completed a lot analysis into Shopify already, which is nice.

Shopify is the third-largest ecommerce platform behind eBay and Amazon, supporting 1.7 million companies starting from company giants to mom-and-pop retailers. 

However you might surprise the place all of it started.

For the curious, we’ve put collectively a bit of historical past lesson to elucidate the ecommerce platform’s early days, who runs it, and what transpired to drive it to increase into some of the distinguished ecommerce platforms in the present day.

So, when did Shopify begin?

The history of Shopify - Infographic

How Shopify started

Finding business ideas

In 2004, pals Tobias Lütke, Scott Lake, and Daniel Weinand got here up with a enterprise concept to begin promoting snowboarding gear on-line via a retailer often known as Snowdevil.

Sadly, the ecommerce platforms that existed on the time didn’t minimize it for them, they usually took it upon themselves to create an ecommerce platform that suited their wants.

Lütke, a pc programmer, was on the forefront of this mission. However sadly, he encountered one other downside alongside the best way. Every instrument he tried to make use of to construct the ecommerce retailer annoyed him.

He needed a easy and easy-to-use instrument, however the current off-the-shelf options like Yahoo! Shops didn’t provide it.

Lütke described it this manner:

I arrange our on-line retailer based mostly on numerous methods reminiscent of Miva, OsCommerce, and Yahoo shops. Fact be informed, all these methods made my pores and skin crawl due to how dangerous they have been. The ultimate straw was after I acquired a customized design made for my snowboard retailer, and I couldn’t get it to work in Yahoo shops.

We had this nice CSS-based structure completed with all these new fanged ‘net requirements,’ and the customizability of Yahoo Shops barely allowed me to alter the background shade of the highest body.

So, he determined to construct the whole lot, together with the infrastructure for Snowdevil, from scratch. To do that, he used Rails, a programming framework developed by 37signals‘ David Heinemeier Hansson (now Basecamp).

They determined to make use of it due to the idea behind it. This system careworn that instruments ought to be easy and pleasing to make use of. This was precisely what Lütke anticipated when he tried to make use of the time’s subtle and unwieldy ecommerce applied sciences.

After two months of improvement, the bare-bones Snowdevil was launched.

Then two years later, in 2006, the platform that hosted Snowdevil was renamed Shopify, ultimately filling the void for the kind of platform its creators had needed.

Supply: Early model of the Snowdevil website

How the Shopify ecommerce retailer concept happened

Two people searching on Google

After launching the shop, Tobias Lütke, Scott Lake, and Daniel Weinand felt they weren’t optimizing their potential. Their calling was extra inclined in direction of serving to different companies than operating their very own snowboard retailer.

That’s once they determined to shelve Snowdevil and concentrate on constructing a service that may assist different retailers create their on-line shops seamlessly. That’s how the big ecommerce ecosystem we see in the present day got here to be.

Launching Shopify, the ecommerce ecosystem – 2006

In 2006, they formally launched Shopify as a set of instruments retailers may use to construct their very own websites.

The preliminary instrument assisted retailers in creating customizable store templates, monitoring orders via an RSS feed, and automating stock group.

Additionally they integrated easy however important capabilities like image importing, tag addition, and merchandise grouping. 

Retailers may course of funds by integrating PayPal or a bank card processor. Though these components have been easy however essential for operating a web-based retailer.

Because of Shopify, entrepreneurs who had by no means traded something on-line had the essential instruments they required to create a profitable ecommerce enterprise for the primary time.

Shopify in 2006
Shopify in 2006

At first, development was sluggish, however issues modified in 2007 when the platform adjusted the way it charged retailer house owners. Initially, they used to cost transaction charges as a share of every sale. This turned off distributors who have been making more cash.

So, to assist fulfill such retailers and create a win-win scenario for everybody, they transitioned to a subscription-based plan and added a modest transaction payment that was diminished with plan measurement.

That is when the synergy between the enterprise mannequin and shopper success grew to become obvious.

Shopify’s product improvement crew now shifted their focus to creating instruments that assist shoppers promote extra since each sale for a buyer meant extra earnings in transaction charges for Shopify.

Shopify homepage in 2008
Shopify’s homepage in 2008

That is how Shopify began seeing their buyer’s success of their backside line. Really, by 2008, the corporate was doing $60,000 in month-to-month recurring income (MRR).

On the time, Shopify was primarily involved with offering first-time retailers with the basic constructing blocks required to promote objects on-line.

Essentially the most essential basic options for first-time sellers have been stock administration, order monitoring, and fundamental analytics capabilities, which Shopify offered.

The transition from a instrument to a platform – 2009

By the tip of 2009, Shopify had cemented its place as an reasonably priced, higher, efficient, and easy-to-use ecommerce instrument that changed previous options like Microsoft Commerce and Yahoo! Shops.

Acknowledging the dynamic energy of open-source software program, the founders determined to construct Shopify’s first exterior API and an app retailer.

Ecommerce is a extremely individualized enterprise. Each retailer desires a novel shopping for expertise however offering too many options makes the software program cumbersome and tough to make use of.

The Shopify API solves this by permitting retailers to put in precisely the options they should get essentially the most out of their retailer…and our Companions can get a recurring income by creating nice purposes for these shops.

Tobi Lutke, 2009

This transfer was pivotal to Shopify’s development as a result of it helped them increase when different net companies have been shrinking.

Many net companies that did not transition from instrument to platform, as Shopify did, have by no means lived to see the sunshine of the day in the present day. Some, like Digg and Feedburner, have been acquired and folded into bigger corporations.

The 2004-2008 software program instrument wave made the online friendlier by providing streamlined and easy instruments. They changed earlier instruments with monumental characteristic units that had tough person interfaces.

from a tool to platform
Shopify instrument to platform

Shopify house owners noticed the chance and commenced the transition by releasing their API platform and app retailer in 2009. Builders may create and promote purposes within the app retailer, whereas retailers may browse, purchase, and set up apps.

This enabled retailers to personalize and improve their on-line shops swiftly.

Shopify provides a cell answer – 2010

Shopify  on mobile

In April 2010, Shopify joined the cell revolution. They developed their first cell app for Apple. And for the primary time, Shopify retailer house owners have been in a position to handle their shops straight from their cell gadgets.

Additionally, Shopify elevated its ecommerce promotion efforts by establishing the “Construct a Enterprise” competitors. This contest required enterprise house owners to open a retailer in eight months.

They set excessive stakes to encourage participation: essentially the most profitable startup would win $100,000 and obtain teaching from movie star entrepreneurs.

The problem attracted over 1,000 new on-line retailers, which made over $3 million in gross sales. Shopify was now serving over 11,300 shops and incomes over $125 million in gross sales from these shops.

Launch of Shopify 2.0 – 2013

Shopify 2 unveiled
Shopify 2.0 unveiled

In 2013, Shopify launched Shopify 2.0. A robust platform revamp with 60+ new options.

They analyzed buyer suggestions and carried out modifications reminiscent of improved search performance, easier-to-use admin options, a stay theme editor, and refund administration.

These makeover parts have been designed to make it simpler for companies to handle their Shopify shops. Shopify 2.0 additionally aided designers in swiftly prototyping and releasing new retailers and purposes.

The Shopify funds platform, one of many most important causes prospects use Shopify, was additionally unveiled in August 2013. By 2014, the service had 120,000 retailers, and in 2015, the agency went public and commenced buying and selling at $28 per share.

Shopify goes public
Shopify goes public

Shopify’s success story with POS

Shopify POS launch

Subsequent up on Shopify’s journey is its Level of Sale system. They unveiled Shopify POS in 2013, delivering in-store and on-line stock synching, reporting for retailers promoting in bodily shops, and out-of-the-box bank card processing.

The brand new Shopify Funds instrument was additionally included, permitting retailers to sync funds on-line and offline.

This characteristic eradicated the necessity for third-party fee channels, permitting retailers to keep away from them.

Additionally they created iPads with a point-of-sale system that instantly accepts debit and bank card funds. This iPad POS remains to be frequently utilized by bodily enterprise institutions.

Bridging the hole between on-line and offline storefronts 2014-Current

However POS was extra than simply one other helpful operate. It was a pivotal second for Shopify, permitting it to increase its attain additional. As a substitute of rising on the web, they supposed to seize offline enterprise this time.

They strived to “enhance commerce for everybody.” This utilized to anyone promoting wherever, not simply these creating web storefronts.

Listed here are some main initiatives they took:

  • 2014: Shopify up to date its app to assist offline gross sales. Shopify Cell now works with Shopify POS. Retailers may use the app as an extra register at retail institutions, add and alter inventory listings, and robotically refresh modifications to precise retail areas.
Shopify app update
  • 2014: Subsequent up, they launched Shopify Plus, an ecommerce answer for companies with large stock volumes. It offered limitless bandwidth and storage, customization, and precedence account administration.
  • 2015: Shopify launched Purchase Buttons to promote objects from any web site, not solely a Shopify retailer. The buttons allowed customers so as to add Purchase Buttons on their WordPress, Squarespace, and Tumblr web sites.
Buy Button
  • 2015: Nonetheless in 2015, they launched Multichannel Shopify to the platform, which featured a dashboard for sellers to handle gross sales throughout a number of channels.

    As a result of there have been so many various strategies to promote with Shopify—together with the ecommerce storefront, POS, and purchase buttons—retailers required a single space to deal with their gross sales.

Shopify multichannel
  • 2017: Shopify closed the hole between on-line and offline purchasing even additional with Shopify QR codes. They allowed buyers to scan a code on a bodily merchandise with their cellphone digital camera and immediately entry it within the service provider’s on-line retailer.
Shopify QR code generator
Shopify QR code generator
  • 2019: Shopify and Snapchat launched an interface that allowed Shopify companies to purchase and handle Snapchat Story adverts straight from the Shopify platform. Beforehand, the platform had obtained related integration offers with Fb and Google.
  • 2021: Shopify introduced the acquisition of Primer, an augmented actuality (AR) app that permits prospects to discover dwelling renovation supplies digitally.

Adapting to offline commerce has been a serious driver of development inside Shopify. It has additionally enabled retailers who beforehand solely offered on-line to promote in bodily shops.

Because of this, Shopify can higher monetize its current shoppers by charging increased transaction charges.

Within the fiscal 12 months 2021, Shopify remodeled 4.6 billion US {dollars} in complete gross sales. Over the measured interval, Shopify’s general income elevated considerably, rising by greater than 4 billion since 2015.

Shopify revenue 2015-2021
Supply: Statista

Shopify’s historical past with dropshipping

The dropship model - Infographic

Though the idea of dropshipping had been round for many years, Shopify shortly grew to become a dominant drive within the rise of dropshipping.

Dropshipping on Shopify allowed entrepreneurs to maintain prices low since merchandise have been solely paid for and shipped after buy.

With manufacturing, warehousing, and delivery outsourced to a 3rd celebration, dropshipping gave entrepreneurs time to concentrate on advertising their merchandise and constructing their manufacturers.

Due to its ease of use and the number of apps out there so as to add stock to your retailer, it’s comprehensible why Shopify is change into and remains to be a well-liked platform selection for dropshipping.

For instance,, a profitable area of interest ecommerce website constructed on Shopify that focuses on all issues cat, was launched in 2014. It was solely promoting merchandise out there through dropshipping.

Meowington origin
Meowingtons’s unique design

I counsel studying this text right here to be taught why Meowingtons is such an amazing instance (it would additionally include extra nice dropshipping retailer examples).

After which, in 2015, Oberlo was launched. Oberlo was a Shopify app that allowed retailers to show their retailer into an AliExpress dropshipping retailer, automating the method.

It was so profitable that in 2017, Shopify bought Oberlo and built-in it even additional. After which Might 2022, Shopify introduced that Oberlo could be shutting down.

Many Oberlo customers have been greatly surprised by this, leaving them dashing to search out an alternate choice. Happily, there are various Oberlo options that may provide help to proceed what you are promoting.

For on-line sellers utilizing Shopify, Oberlo was a well-liked dropshipping plugin for years.

Customers may simply import merchandise to their shops and promote them immediately from the stock of hundreds of suppliers. The app supplied an enormous vary of merchandise at low costs.


At this time, due to Shopify, anybody can arrange a dropshipping enterprise. It is a appreciable change from when solely essentially the most pushed people with a strong understanding of ecommerce could possibly be profitable.

Associated article: Desirous about studying extra concerning the historical past of dropshipping? Try our different article right here!

What’s behind Shopify’s sensational success?

What’s driving Shopify’s success, and what can we be taught from them? Let’s discover out:

Pinpointing person wants and creating an ecosystem round them

They targeted on retailers’ major path, targets, and ache areas to supply a hyper-relevant and very valued answer.

Shopify prolonged its options to focus on particular ache factors such because the checkout, level of sale, and success experiences after creating instruments enabling anybody to quickly and inexpensively create a web-based retailer.

Empowering their prospects and enabling them to concentrate on what issues

As a substitute of requiring every service provider to put in writing code to get their enterprise up and operating, Shopify has constructed a strong framework that entrepreneurs can undertake, modify, and construct upon.

Shopify presents enterprise information and help along with technical assist. Decreasing the technical threshold for small retailers to function on-line shops is essentially the most fundamental enterprise of Shopify.

Shining the highlight on their prospects, not themselves

Shopify, not like rivals, permits companies to maintain their independence. Shopify portrays itself as a clean canvas on goal, permitting retailers to shine whereas Shopify stays within the background.

Making the most of the direct-to-consumer pattern, Shopify is pleased to remain out of the limelight whereas helping its shoppers in shining.

Staying abreast of fixing enterprise and expertise traits

They’ve stayed abreast of fixing enterprise and expertise traits and constructed an ecosystem of focused merchandise that allow prospects to attain their targets.

Versatile pricing plans

Shopify presents a couple of pricing schemes with completely different options included in every plan and transaction charges charged. Shopify at present presents a 3-day trial + $1/month for the primary 3 months. (Extra data right here)

There are different plans with a month-to-month payment starting from $29 to $299, plus a extra custom-made Shopify Plus plan for bigger retailers.

Shopify pricing table

For extra details about this, try this text right here!

Earlier than we finish, let’s reply one necessary query; who owns Shopify now?

Who owns Shopify now in 2023?

Shopify was based by Tobi Lütke and headquartered in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. “Tobi” Lütke is a German-born Canadian billionaire entrepreneur.

Tobi Lütke
Supply: Linkedin

Whereas Tobias Lütke remains to be with Shopify because the CEO, the corporate has been publicly traded since April 2015, when it filed for an preliminary public providing on each the New York Inventory Trade and the Toronto Inventory Trade.

This implies the corporate is owned by shareholders and managed by a board of administrators.


Earlier than we go to the ultimate verdict, we’ve created a fast abstract of this text for you, so you possibly can simply keep in mind it:

  • Shopify was based in 2006 by Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake.
  • Shopify started as Snowdevil, a web-based retailer for snowboarding gear. 
  • Tobias Lütke, and Scott Lake, ditched Snowdevil after they felt they weren’t optimizing their potential.
  • The preliminary Shopify product solely required fundamental instruments to create a profitable ecommerce retailer.
  • At first, development was sluggish, however issues modified in 2007 once they switched to a subscription-based plan.
  • Shopify transitioned from a instrument to a platform in 2009. This transfer was pivotal to Shopify’s development as a result of it helped them increase when different net companies have been shrinking.
  • In 2013, Shopify launched Shopify 2.0. A robust platform revamp with 60+ new options.
  • They unveiled Shopify POS in 2013, delivering in-store and on-line stock synching,
  • From 2014 to now, Shopify has been bridging the hole between on-line and offline storefronts via numerous merchandise to cowl each on-line and offline markets.


There you may have it! From a snowboard store to an $11 billion commerce ecosystem. We hope you loved our transient historical past lesson and that you’ve some context to grasp the ecommerce platform higher.

We’re devoted to serving to you obtain your targets. In case you are new to ecommerce, try our article Learn how to Begin an On-line Retailer for Free: A Step-by-Step Information.

There isn’t any time like in the present day to begin an ecommerce retailer. And you are able to do it with ample analysis and perseverance with out spending tons of money on on-line programs made by so-called ‘gurus.’

Should you don’t discover the solutions to your questions on this weblog, we’d love to listen to from you.

Good luck!

Wish to be taught extra about Shopify?

Prepared to maneuver your Shopify retailer to the subsequent stage? Try the articles beneath:

Plus, don’t overlook to take a look at our in-depth the best way to begin a Shopify retailer information right here!

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