Three quotes that sum up how Ottawa entrepreneur Tobi Lütke runs Shopify

Purpose, culture, and long-term vision: If you had to boil it down, this is what Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke thinks about when he’s making decisions about Shopify.

Recently, financial services company The Motley Fool rounded up three quotes from the Ottawa entrepreneur that explain Lütke’s philosophy. Their analysts believe these nuggets of wisdom are all investors need to read before they decide whether or not to invest in Lütke’s e-commerce giant.

Empowering merchants, not profiteers

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“Something that potential investors must understand: we do not chase revenue as the primary driver of our business. Shopify has been about empowering merchants since it was founded, and we have always prioritized long-term value over short- term revenue opportunities. We don’t see this changing.”

This quote strikes a contrarian chord with most investors, but The Motley Fool doesn’t think that’s a bad thing. Rather than a CEO focused on maximizing profit, Lütke has a vision and a purpose behind Shopify: empowering merchants to sell more and expand their businesses.

Lütke’s firmly-held philosophy doesn’t put money first, rather suggesting that if the vision is fulfilled, profit will surely follow.

Culture over wealth

“Literally the only time in the last year where I’ve thought about this is when I read The Globe and Mail, talking about my net worth. It is not something that motivates me, so I don’t particularly care about money. I care about working on interesting problems, and Shopify is this gift that keeps on giving for working on interesting problems with amazing people. That’s really what I’m preoccupied with.”

Here, Lütke shows that his disinterest in Shopify’s profit extends to his own wealth.

Rather, what gets him out of bed everyday is solving problems and working with his team. Given Shopify’s rating on workplace review site Glassdoor, he’s not just blowing smoke with this quote, either.

While Lütke’s shares gives him more than one-third of the company’s voting power, and a personal wealth valued at more than $500 million, The Motley Fool believes his focus on culture works well with the structure of his holdings. This way, Lütke can be sure corporate raiders won’t mess with the good thing he’s got going.

He thinks he knows nothing

“I work under the assumption that we have no idea how to build companies yet, and that 50 years from now people will look back at the companies of today and they will seem like the black-and-white footage of the first hockey games. We have no idea how to build the best companies yet.”

Would hearing from the CEO that he has no idea how to build a company shake your confidence in Shopify?

The Motley Fool argues on the contrary, that Lütke’s admitted ignorance is an attitude towards building to a better future. The company’s projects promoting computing literacy and entrepreneurship are examples of how Shopify is planning very, very long-term.

So to sum up: Lütke isn’t out to make money and doesn’t believe he knows how to run a company. And yet, Shopify shows no sign of slowing down.

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