Shopify to open new office on Laurier

By Rory Gilheany

Shopify, the Ottawa-based e-commerce juggernaut, will be expanding its Centretown operations this July with a new headquarters at 234 Laurier Ave.

The company — which could hit $600 million in sales this year, according to a recent forecast reported by Reuters — plans to establish a “campus-style” work environment comprising its current 150 Elgin St. location and the new 325,000-sq.-ft. Laurier Avenue office.

“With our hopes for long-term growth, we knew that we needed a larger building,” said Greg Scorsone, director of internal operations at Shopify.

“We hope our new home will be a unique environment that attracts the top talent to Shopify and Ottawa.”

Shopify will move into floors two through six of the Laurier Avenue building — best known as the former headquarters of the Export Development Corp. — in July, with plans to fill an additional four to five floors each year until all 19 floors are occupied.

The expansion represents a potential 2,500 new jobs in Shopify’s Ottawa operations by the end of 2021, a major growth projection from the 750 employees currently located at the company’s Elgin Street headquarters.

“Ottawa has an incredibly deep pool of technology talent,” said Scorsone.

“The city’s strong tech hub encourages startups like Shopify to remain in the city after they expand.”

Shopify was launched by CEO Tobias Lütke in 2006 and now has a team of more than 1,900 employees across five North American offices.

The company’s platform supports almost 400,000 active online businesses worldwide.

In recent years, Ottawa’s once-booming technology industry has experienced a Shopify-driven rejuvenation.

The city was featured in Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report earlier this year — marking the city’s first appearance since the report launched in 2013.

And it was crowned Canada’s top tech hub to work and live by Expert Market in March.

Based on this recent success, Invest Ottawa — the city’s lead economic development agency — plans to double down on efforts to make Ottawa an innovation city alongside Vancouver and Toronto.

“The tech industry is our main focus for the future,” said Ryan Gibson, lead marketing strategist at Invest Ottawa. “We hope to continue building on the incredible growth the city has seen over the past few years.”

Ottawa currently has approximately 1,300 technology companies that employ more than 70,000 workers at any given time, according to Gibson.

If a 2015 forecast report by the Information and Communications Technology Council of Canada proves to be accurate, the city would see an additional 10,000 tech industry jobs created by 2019.

Gibson points to the success of Shopify as a new foundation for the Ottawa’s thriving technology industry.

“Shopify is an inspiration for any startup developing in the city,” he said

They have demonstrated the potential to build a company in Ottawa, hire from within the city, and expand globally. The best-case scenario is that we will see three or four more Shopifys develop in Ottawa.”

Victoria Lennox is co-founder and CEO of Startup Canada, the country’s largest entrepreneurship organization based out of Sparks Street.

She said Ottawa’s skilled workforce, educational institutions, and tightknit startup community are the right ingredients for more successful businesses like Shopify in the future.

“Ottawa most certainly could be home to the next great Canadian success story,” Lennox says. “By encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, we can make this a reality.”

Shopify will look to continue its own success story when it expands in July.