One of the most successful Canadian technology executives in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area, Luc Levesque has left a senior job at Facebook, Inc. to lead international growth for Ottawa-based online commerce giant Shopify Inc.
Mr. Levesque, 44, joined Facebook in 2017 after leading international growth for TripAdvisor Inc. and advising Silicon Valley venture capital firms and prominent startups, including Pinterest and Twitter, on expanding their business through search engine and other online channels. He is the second senior Canadian in the Bay Area to join a Canadian entity this month, after former Evernote Corp. chief executive Chris O’Neill, now a partner with Power Corp. of Canada’s Portag3 Ventures.
Ottawa native Mr. Levesque earned a diploma in computer engineering from Algonquin College in 1995 and later founded early travel blog TravelPod. He sold it in 2007 to Expedia Group, Inc., staying with subsidiary TripAdvisor (later spun off into a separate entity) in Ottawa.
Facebook’s senior leaders courted Mr. Levesque for months, after he moved to Silicon Valley, he led its “youth team,” which launched Messenger Kids in 2017. The parent-controlled messaging app has faced some criticisms, including for hooking children on to smartphone apps and collecting user data. But Facebook maintains the popular offering, one of its few successful in-house products since it’s core offering, is safer for young users than other mobile messaging apps. Mr. Levesque said in a blog post Sunday he was “really proud of the work the team did to create the world’s first safe family messaging product.”
Facebook spokeswoman Jennifer Hakes said, “We are grateful for Luc’s leadership and contributions to Messenger Kids and Facebook … and wish him the best.” His departure was first reported Friday by The Information, an online tech publication.
Mr. Levesque had originally planned to start another company after leaving Facebook, he said. That changed after a recent meeting with Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, who has known him since they were young founders in Ottawa in the mid-2000s and members of Fresh Founders, a group of local startup leaders that led the renaissance of Ottawa’s tech scene. They have talked for years about working together.
Mr. Levesque called the opportunity to work at Shopify, now Canada’s most valuable technology company, “too exciting to pass up … personally I want to work on something fun and challenging and big and important. … It’s mind-blowing what he’s been able to grow with Shopify.”
Shopify chief operating officer Harley Finkelstein, also an old friend of Mr. Levesque’s, said “we’ve always thought of him as one of the most insightful and thoughtful leaders we’ve ever met. His track record is incredibly impressive and we’re excited to have him joining us.”
Mr. Levesque is the latest in a string of Canadian tech executives/entrepreneurs to join Shopify after holding senior positions with foreign tech giants, including chief product officer Craig Miller (from eBay Inc.), and chief technology officer Jean-Michel Lemieux (Atlassian Corp. PLC). Mr. Levesque replaces Canadian Aaron Brown, a former Amazon.com, Inc. and BlackBerry Ltd. executive, who is taking on a new senior role at Shopify.