Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Shopify Inc. has dumped a newswire company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway as its disseminator of press releases because it refused to consent to an unconventional request − and replaced it with a tiny Canadian rival that typically issues news for cannabis and junior mining companies.

Last Monday, Shopify, Canada’s largest company by market valuation and a provider of online e-commerce and business management tools to 1.7 million merchants globally, issued a release through Berkshire Hathaway’s Business Wire, announcing a stock offering.

The release included an unusual statement in the corporate boilerplate section. It read: “We were proudly founded in Ottawa, Canada, but prefer to think of the company location as Internet, Everywhere. Shopify is a company of and by the internet, and we have physical outposts around the world. The archaic newswire system doesn’t allow us to acknowledge this fact, so we will henceforth keep this paragraph in our press releases until technology approves.”

Story continues below advertisement

The tart words appear to stem from a dispute between Shopify and Business Wire. Shopify wanted to replace “Ottawa” in the release’s dateline, or placeline, with “Internet, Everywhere.” Business Wire said no.

“We require press releases distributed on our platform to adhere to certain formats and standards in accordance with the preferences of our new organization partners, as well as securities laws,” Business Wire said in an e-mailed statement. “Whenever a client comes to us with a unique request, we always engage constructively and attempt to find a mutually agreed-upon solution.” The company didn’t elaborate.

Shopify’s irreverent request is consistent with the character of a disruptive technology company that has chafed at some of the conventional constraints of public company life. Its 2015 prospectus contained an expletive – the retail software provider listed “Get shit done” as an ability it valued in an employee – which caused a debate between executives and company advisers before its eventual inclusion.

More recently, Shopify decided to live by the “digital-by-default” credo permanently, meaning most employees will keep working remotely after the pandemic. The company took a US$31.6-million impairment charge last year to terminate leases or sublet space at some offices, a cost it stated “will yield longer-term benefits,” including opening the company to a diverse global talent pool, eliminating commuting and “fast-tracking new and better ways to work together that are more productive and rewarding.”

Last Wednesday, Shopify chief executive officer Tobi Lutke tweeted: “We were … annoyed that we can’t change” the dateline in Monday’s release. A day later, he tweeted: “We found a wire service that allows us to release press releases with the location Internet, Everywhere”: Newsfile Corp.

Newsfile provides regulatory and compliance services to public companies. It has 2,000 clients – typically small companies that trade on the TSX, TSX Venture and CSE exchanges – and about $10-million in annual billings. The company, with 35 employees in Toronto and Vancouver, has been around since 1997 and moved into electronic press release dissemination a decade ago.

Newsfile co-founder and director Ian Tennant said in an interview that representatives of Shopify’s communications and investor relations department called Thursday afternoon, explaining other wire services wouldn’t allow it to use its chosen dateline in releases. “They wanted a physical location, which is the traditional way of doing it. … This wasn’t your everyday sales call.”

Story continues below advertisement

Shopify didn’t respond to multiple interview requests.

Mr. Tennant said his company was happy to oblige: “We’re hungry and we need to be agile, and we’re a little more willing to maybe challenge some established views and positions on something like that. … What if NASA wanted to put out a release for Perseverance and say it was coming from Mars? I don’t have a problem with that.”

Later that day, Shopify issued its first release through Newsfile with its desired placeline. The companies are set to discuss a longer-term contract next week. A typical public company generates tens of thousands of dollars in billings annually, Mr. Tennant said. Signing Shopify as a flagship client would be “pretty big” and help attract new clients, he said. “We want to make sure we can keep them.”

Mr. Tennant noted the press release business “is slow to adapt and evolve. In 2021, everyone is working from home. Maybe the old concept of physical locations has changed. We’re entirely work-from-home, and an internet-based company” – and, like most Shopify customers, a small business. “Maybe that’s why this resonated with us.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies