Ottawa-based company argues time previously devoted to meetings can be better spent serving customers, developing new products and improving its current offerings.Coming off a year that saw its stock price fall nearly 70 per cent, profits evaporate and key executives leave, Shopify is slashing employee meetings as part of a “ruthless internal prioritization effort” aimed at building a more efficient company. The Ottawa-based e-commerce software giant said it’s planning to “delete” more than 10,000 events from its employees’ schedules as of Tuesday. Those gatherings include all recurring meetings involving more than two people, all meetings on Wednesdays and all meetings that include 50 employees or more, save for a six-hour slot on Thursdays. Shopify says the move will free up more than 75,000 hours from its employees’ collective schedules. The company argues time previously devoted to meetings can be better spent serving customers, developing new products and improving its current offerings. “Uninterrupted time is the most precious resource of a craftsperson, and we are giving our people a ‘no judgment zone’ to subtract, reject meetings, and focus on what is most valuable,” chief operating officer Kaz Nejatian said in a statement. “Shopify is building a 100-year company that requires us to focus on what really matters: being merchant-obsessed builders and crafters.” The move comes as Shopify tries to get back on track after a tumultuous 2022. While its revenues and stock soared amid a rush to online shopping as brick-and-mortar stores closed early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ottawa-based firm has fallen to Earth with a thud over the past 13 months. Shopify’s shares dropped from an all-time high of $213 in November 2021 to $47 when the Toronto Stock Exchange closed for business on Dec. 30. The company reported a net loss of US$158.4 million or 12 cents per diluted share in the quarter ending Sept. 30, compared with a net profit of nearly US$1.15 billion or 90 cents per diluted share a year earlier. Meanwhile, the firm hailed as Canada’s tech darling laid off about 1,000 workers – 10 per cent of its staff – last July, with CEO Tobi Lutke admitting Shopify executives had misjudged the continued growth of e-commerce as COVID-fuelled public health restrictions were lifted and consumers returned to in-store shopping. On top of laid-off employees, key staff who shaped the company – chief financial officer Amy Shapero, chief operating officer Toby Shannan, chief product officer Craig Miller, managing director of revenue Ian Black, director of product marketing Arati Sharma – also departed during the pandemic. Still, Shopify president Harley Finkelstein said in a recent interview he remains upbeat about the company’s future. He told the Canadian Press last month he’s been “dreaming of working with” new CFO Jeff Hoffmeister, who led Shopify’s initial public offering and previously worked for Morgan Stanley, since 2014. In addition, Finkelstein said the stock plunge “hasn’t been too much of a distraction” because executives have been “thoughtful” around how they address it. (The company has long kept workers from dwelling on it by encouraging staff caught checking it too often to treat their team to Timbits.) Finkelstein also said he wants retailers big and small to see the firm as a “one-stop shop” for all things commerce-related. That means getting retailers who power online stores with Shopify software to also use the company’s point of sale hardware, seek funding from Shopify Capital and manage and deliver orders with its burgeoning fulfilment network. To that end, Shopify announced Tuesday it is launching a new product stack targeted at global retailers. Dubbed Commerce Components, the new offering gives customers “a la carte” access to components such as its checkout system and application interfaces with no rate limits, rather than requiring them to pay for a whole platform. “Enterprise retailers can take the components they need, and leave what they don’t, and developers are free to build with any front-end framework they choose,” the company said in a news release. Finkelstein said Commerce Components “opens our infrastructure so enterprise retailers don’t have to waste time, engineering power and money building critical foundations Shopify has already perfected, and instead frees them up to customize, differentiate and scale.” Among the companies that have already signed up for the new stack is toymaker Mattel, which is best known for brands such as Barbie and Fisher-Price. – With files from the Canadian Press
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