The exodus of long-standing Shopify Inc. executives continued Wednesday, as chief executive officer Tobi Lutke announced three of the company’s seven chief-level officers would leave the online commerce software giant.
Mr. Lutke said in a blog post that chief talent officer Brittany Forsyth, chief legal officer Joe Frasca and chief technology officer Jean-Michel Lemieux would all “transition out of their current roles,” which they have all held for at least six years, in the coming months.
“Each of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify.” He added the three were “leaving [Shopify] perfectly on time.”
Ms. Forsyth was Shopify’s 22nd employee, joining one year after earning a business undergraduate degree at Carleton University. She is one of a group of present and former female Shopify leaders who recently launched investment collective Backbone Angels to back early-stage female and non-binary founders.
“I’m excited and a little sad to announce that I’ll be leaving my role at Shopify to double down on my own entrepreneurship journey,” Ms. Forsyth tweeted Wednesday. “After spending one-third of my life building Shopify, I can honestly say I’m so proud of what we’ve built and am confident in the future of Shopify.”
Mr. Frasca was previously senior corporate counsel with EMC Corp. before joining Shopify in May, 2014, and has overseen the company’s belated move to take a more active approach to filing patents on its innovations. Mr. Lemieux was a veteran of the Ottawa technology scene who jumped to a high-profile position as vice-president of engineering with Australian subscription software giant Atlassian Corp. PLC a decade ago before returning to Shopify in early 2015.
All three accumulated significant wealth as senior Shopify employees, particularly in 2020 as the company’s financial results and stock price surged owing to an accelerated shift to online selling and buying during the pandemic. The trio cashed in options worth tens of millions of dollars combined in the past year, securities filings show.
“This team has been spectacular and deserves to take a bow,” Mr. Lutke said, adding the company has “a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles. The brightest people in the world are lining up to work at Shopify and those that are joining us every day are incredible … our talent density runs as deep as ever. The important thing is to continue making every version of Shopify better than the one that came before.”
The trio are the latest in a string of top-level departures from Shopify, including chief product officer Craig Miller, whom Mr. Lutke displaced last fall to take on the job himself, as well as product leaders Chris Lobay, Louis Kearns, Michael Perry and Sylvia Ng, and marketing executives Bruno Roldan, Jason Naidu and Arati Sharma.
In addition to former chief operating officer Harley Finkelstein moving into the president’s role, “there’s a bit of the changing of the guard going on at Shopify,” said Matt Roberts, a Toronto-based venture capitalist who has known the company’s leaders since its startup days in the 2000s. “Maybe it was time for fresh ideas and fresh changes, particularly as Shopify is changing how they’ll go after things [in the] next 12 to 18 months,” he said.
In the past year, Shopify became Canada’s most valuable public company for several months and became a growing thorn in the side of e-commerce goliath Amazon.com Inc.
Shopify, used by retailers to run their online stores and back-office operations, is entering into a new phase that will see it move further into Amazon’s territory. Last year, the Ottawa company launched its first consumer-facing app, Shop, which allows users to track packages ordered from Shopify merchants, notifies them about nearby Shopify sellers and promotes featured items.
The company is also expanding into warehousing and fulfilment across North America for its merchant customers and has started investing in e-commerce startups, including same-day delivery company Swyft Technologies Inc. and consumer finance business Affirm Holdings Inc.