Shopify raises its profile in Waterloo with larger office, plans to hire

Shopify Inc. is raising its profile in Waterloo with plans to hire more people for a larger office in the city.

The Ottawa-based company, which built its business on helping other companies launch their own web stores using Shopify software, is announcing it's making a significant expansion in the region as part of an effort to attract talent from local universities and other tech companies.

CEO Tobias Lutke says the company is looking for employees who are "authentic" and have strong passions in life, whether they involve engineering or even hobbies unrelated to the workplace, like music.

"We're looking for optimistic people who really get into whatever they're doing," he told students during a fireside chat at Wilfrid Laurier University. "I want to be able to walk around in my office and know people... really deeply care about something."

This year, Shopify has been growing in leaps and bounds after listing on the public markets in May.

This month alone, it has secured a new partnership with Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon for its web store merchants and reached an agreement with Twitter that allows retailers to post one-click purchase buttons on the social media platform.

Shopify has seen its market value soar to about US$2.6 billion. Its stock began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on May 21 at C$35.03 and closed Wednesday at $46.66, a gain of 33 per cent.

The company already has offices in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto as well as a small operation in Waterloo that has about 20 employees who work from a facility that mainly houses local startups.

Moving to a different office will give it enough room to accommodate up to 300 employees who will be mostly focused on Shopify Plus, its higher-tiered service for heavy volume merchants, said company spokeswoman Janet Park.

The space will undergo renovations over the coming months with an official opening date set for April 2016.

Shopify has about 780 employees across its existing Canadian operations.

Other large companies have been ramping up their presence in the Waterloo region in the wake of widespread layoffs at smartphone company BlackBerry (TSX:BB) over the past few years.

TD Bank (TSX:TD) said Wednesday it would beef up its local staff by adding more than 120 jobs over the next year dedicated to improving digital platforms for its clients.

Earlier this month, news and data company Thomson Reuters announced plans to open a research space in Waterloo where it would experiment with new ways to deliver information to its customers.