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Shopify to lay off 20% of staff

Shopify said on Thursday it would cut 20 per cent of its workforce, the second major round of layoffs at the e-commerce company in the past year. 

Company is selling its entire logistics division.

shopify's logo is shown on a cellphone app

Ottawa-based Shopify Inc. said on Thursday it would cut 20 per cent of its workforce, the second major round of layoffs at the e-commerce company in under a year.

“This means some of you will leave Shopify today,” CEO Tobi Lutke told staff in a memo. “I recognize the crushing impact this decision has on some of you, and did not make this decision lightly.”

Affected employees have already been advised, via email, if they still have a job. Everyone will receive a minimum of 16 weeks severance plus a week for every year they worked at the company.

Part of the cuts come from Shopify’s sale of its logistics division to Flexport, based in Silicon Valley, Calif.

Only last year, Shopify was beefing up its logistics unit, buying delivery firm Deliverr for more than $2 billion. But the company has decided to go in a new direction, handing the entire logistics business to Flexport in exchange for a 13 per cent stake in the company.

“Making the global supply chains efficient and software addressable is Flexport’s main quest and so this is the perfect home for this part of Shopify,” the company said.

According to regulatory filings, at the end of its last fiscal year, Shopify had 11,600 employees, so the 20 per cent reduction announced Thursday amounts to more than 2,300 people. While slashing costs over the long run, the company says the cuts will incur about $150 million US in severance costs.

Managerial roles slashed

The company appears to be targeting managerial roles for the cuts, as opposed to people who work on the company’s software, with Lutke saying in his note to staff that the company had too many of the former.

“The balance of crafter to manager numbers is a tricky one to strike. Too few and you risk misalignment on the most important things, too many and you add heavy layers of process, approvals, meetings and… side quests. Our numbers were unhealthy, just like it is in much of the tech industry,” he said.

It’s the second major round of layoffs at the company in under a year, as the company announced last summer that after expanding aggressively during the pandemic, it would lay off 10 per cent of its staff, as sales growth on its e-commerce platform was slowing.

The company announced the layoffs as it revealed quarterly results, which beat expectations on a 25 per cent increase in revenue.

The company’s shares were up by eight per cent in pre-market trading.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Anurag Rana says the move to cut staff is the right call.

“This strategy shift, while painful in the short-term due to writedowns and layoffs, will increase the company’s focus on selling more products through its platform,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pete Evans is the senior business writer for CBCNews.ca. Prior to coming to the CBC, his work has appeared in the Globe & Mail, the Financial Post, the Toronto Star, and Canadian Business Magazine. Twitter: @p_evans Email: pete.evans@cbc.ca

 

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