Shopify plans to hire 1,000 workers, open Vancouver office by end of year

OTTAWA — Shopify Inc. is bulking up its presence and workforce on Canada’s west coast with a plan to hire 1,000 people in Vancouver and open its first permanent office there.

The Ottawa-based company, which provides technology to online retailers, said Tuesday that it will start expanding its team with a slew of backend developers, data engineers, mobile developers, web developers, product designers and product managers in the city. They will work from a four-floor, 6,500-square metre space set to open at Four Bentall Centre in downtown Vancouver by late 2020.

The company settled on Vancouver because it sees the city as a talent hub and conducive for growth, said Lynsey Thornton, Shopify’s vice-president of UX, who will lead the new office.

“To get to that (1,000) number, it will take a couple of years, but it’s our intention to make a long-term commitment to the city,” she said.

“We feel we have the capacity and the brand name and the amount of product work to do that.”

Thornton and other Vancouver Shopify workers currently work from a WeWork space across the street from Four Bentall Centre.

The move comes amid a hiring and office-opening frenzy at Shopify. Last year, the business opened a new office in Toronto at the King and Portland Centre, steps away from the company’s first office in Canada’s largest city. It also announced that it will lease about 23,597 square metres of space at The Well complex in Toronto to be built at Front St. West and Spadina Ave.

The company still has a headquarters in Ottawa, an office in Montreal and a brick-and-mortar store in L.A. that hosts workshops, talks and other events aimed at solving the biggest challenges Shopify merchants face. Its website also boasts of spaces in Waterloo, Ont., Berlin, Singapore, Tokyo, Stockholm and more.

While Shopify has been toying with augmented and virtual reality offerings and racking up its roster of merchants, it’s putting plenty of focus on competing with Amazon by rolling out a network of fulfilment centres to help U.S. merchants lower shipping costs and ensure timely deliveries.

The company has not disclosed when or if it will expand that network to Canada, but says it will focus initially on merchants who ship between 10 and 10,000 items a day and expand to accommodate those who sell between three and 30,000 a day.

It will spend more than $1 billion on the network in the next few years, but Thornton wouldn’t say how involved Vancouver workers will be with the project.

“We haven’t really decided the exact projects that will come to fruition in this (space), but with 1000 people and the capacity to hire over the coming years, there’s really nothing off the table in terms of what we would take on,” she said.

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