Web Developer vs. SEO “Expert” vs. Social Media “Expert”

Chart: What a web developer needs to know (stack of books) and earns (small stack of money) / What an SEO "expert" needs to know (one SEO book) and earns (medium stack of money) / What a social media "expert" needs to know (Facebook password, Twitter password) and earns (big stack of money)

Found this floating about the internet. Usually, when someone tells me they’re a social media consultant, I have to fight the urge to say “Oh really? Which restaurant?”


It’s Where the Magic Happens

I’ve already been asked if it’s a little weird running something like the Shopify Fund. Of course…and I’m cool with that. I’m keeping this little Venn diagram in mind:

Venn diagram with two disjoint circles: a small one labelled "Your comfort zone" and a larger one labelled "Where the magic happens"

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.


The Shopify Fund

"The Shopify Fund: A cool million for cool apps": Stacks on hundred-dollar bills arranged into an "S" shape

Shopify Gets Funding (Again)!

If you haven’t heard the announcement yet, let me tell you: Shopify has secured a second round of funding – 15 million dollars’ worth.

"$15 million in funding (the budget for the film Slumdog Millionaire)": "Who wants to be a millionaire" scene from "Slumdog Millionaire"

We’ve been profitable for a while now, so landing this money wasn’t about survival; it’s about ambition. We’re aiming to be the number one ecommerce platform, so we’re using the money to fuel our growth: more staff, more stuff, and more services.

As we like to say, “When the train comes in, everybody rides!” And by everybody, I’m including developers who build on the Shopify platform.

Screenshot of the Shopify Fund page

That’s why I’m very pleased to announce the Shopify Fund!

The Idea Behind the Shopify Fund

"Supporting indie app developers": Photo of a software developer's home office

The idea behind the Shopify Fund is very simple: we want to support developers who build apps for the Shopify platform by giving them money so that they can work full-time for a few weeks on those apps without having to worry about paying their bills.

Dr. Evil, pointing his pinky finger at the corner of his mouthAnd I’ve got a million dollars to make it happen! Say it with me: One. Meeeellion. Dollars.

Many of us at Shopify, myself included, have worked at small or one-person development shops, so we know what it’s like to have to pick and choose projects in order to stay afloat. We hope that the Shopify Fund will make that choice easier and make it possible for you to build apps for our great ecommerce platform and fill your wallet at the same time.

The Shopify API and App Store

(This section’s for developers who aren’t familiar with Shopify. Feel free to jump ahead if this is old news to you.)

Bob Marley: "One love, four verbs"

Those of you new to Shopify might not be aware that it’s not just a hosted ecommerce system, but also a platform that offers a RESTful API. This API gives you the capability to programmatically perform many of the actions that a shopowner can perform from his or her control panel. With the API, you can automate tasks to make shopowners’ and customers’ lives easier, provide shopowners with different views and insights into their shops’ data, integrate Shopify with a world of online services and generally expand that capabilities of Shopify shops.

(If you’d like to know more about Shopify’s API, check out our API documentation.)

Screenshot of Shopify's App Store

Shopify also provides a place for developers to sell their Shopify apps: the Shopify App Store. It’s a one-stop shop that:

  • Makes it easy for shopowners to browse, purchase and install apps for their Shopify shops
  • Makes it easy for developers to reach a market of over 15,000 active shopowners and make money (there’s an 80/20 revenue share; you get 80% of the sale price of your app, Shopify gets 20%)

In 2010, almost half of our active shopowners had installed at least one app.

How the Shopify Fund Works

"Got an App Idea?": lightbulb

If you’re a developer with an idea for a Shopify app, we’d like to hear from you! Drop us a line at and we’ll evaluate your idea. If we think it’s worth funding, we’ll provide an advance in the neighbourhood of $5,000 to $10,000 (and hey, maybe more if we think it’s going to be big) on future sales in the App Store.

If this sounds like a literary advance, that’s because that’s the model we’re using – but a little bit nicer. Here’s a quick description of how it works:

  1. If we think your app idea’s a good one and we fund it, we’ll give you half the advance up front.
  2. Once you finish the app, you get the other half of the advance.
  3. Your app goes in the store. Until the app’s sales reach the amount of the advance we gave you, the revenue share is 50% for Shopify, 50% for you. That’s right, you’ll still be making some money!
  4. One the app’s sales reach the amount of the advance we gave you, the revenue share goes back to the standard 20% for Shopify, 80% for you.

Gecko playing with an Xbox 360 controller: "Mad Skills: I has them"

If you have programming skills but can’t think of any Shopify app ideas, check out the App Wishlist in our wiki. It’s full of ideas, and one of them might be right up your alley.

If you still can’t think of any Shopify app ideas but have killer programming skills and would like to work on a Shopify app, we’d still like to hear from you. We might be able to assign you to a project of our choosing.

Once Again…

Screenshot of the Shopify Fund page

…be sure to check out the new Shopify Fund page and if you’re interested, drop us a line at to find out more or to propose an app that you’d like to have us fund!

Keep an eye on this blog as well: we’re going to be talking about building apps on the Shopify platform for the next little while.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.


Shopify Gets Funding (Again): $15 Million

"Who wants to be a millionaire" scene from "Slumdog Millionaire": "$15 million in funding: the budget for the film Slumdog Millionaire"

Here’s the first paragraph of the press release that Shopify put out this morning:

OTTAWA, Ontario, Oct. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Shopify, a leading ecommerce platform used to create and power online stores, today announced that it closed a $15 million Series B growth investment from Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Felicis Ventures, and Georgian Partners. This new investment adds to the $7 million of Series A funding received last year, providing a sizable balance to fund continued growth.

Tobi, our CEO, also made the announcement on the Shopify blog.

Here’s a quick run-down of Shopify for those of you who aren’t familiar with what we do:

Shopify logo

Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform that makes it easy to create an online store and sell products online. It was created out of necessity — when Shopify CEO and co-founder Tobi Lutke and friends wanted to start an online store for snowboarding equipment, they couldn’t find any ecommerce platform they liked. Being software developers, they did what came naturally: they wrote their own. It then occurred to them that it wasn’t snowboards they should be selling, but shops. And thus Shopify was born.

Shopify by the Numbers

"Thousands of Shops": Panoramic view of large shopping center

Creative Commons photo by NeilsPhotography. Click the photo to see the original.

When we say “15,000+ shops run on Shopify”, we mean 15,000+ active shops. These shops aren’t free trials, but active paid accounts actually selling stuff. Among our customers are: Angry Birds, Beastie Boys, CrossFit, DODOcase, Evernote, Evisu, Foo Fighters, GitHub, LMFAO, Penny Arcade and Tesla Motors.

"2.7 million customers in 2010: That's as many people as in the city of Chicago": Photo of Millennium Park showing giant "bean"

In 2010, 2.7 million customers shopped at Shopify shops. To give you an idea of how many people that is, that’s the same number of people that lived within the city of Chicago that year (according to Wikipedia).

"1.6 million orders in 2010": Photo of lines of shopping carts

Creative Commons photo by Jay Reed. Click the photo to see the original.

Those 2.7 million customers placed a total of 1.6 million orders that year. That’s a lot of shopping carts.

"$124 million in sales in 2010: enough to fund one of the Deathly Hallows movies": Harry Potter Lego figures

Creative Commons photo by Mr. Spielbrick. Click the photo to see the original.

Those 1.6 million orders, put together, combine to form a sum of $124 million in sales for 2010. That’s about the budget of each one of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films.

Ecommerce by the Numbers

Let’s talk about Shopify’s field, ecommerce.

"Ecommerce is the tip of the retail iceberg: It's less than 5% of all retail sales, but growing twice as quickly)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, ecommerce represents less than 5% of all retail sales in America, but growing at twice the rate.

Chart showing steady growth of ecommerce in the U.S. from 2002 to 2011

In the second quarter of this year – that’s just the months of April, May and June 2011 – the total retail sales in the U.S. was just over $1 trillion ($1.04 trillion, if you want to be a little more exact).

"$1 Trillion: Total retail sales in the US for 2Q 2011": Graphic showing how much $1 trillion is

(If you need an idea of how much $1 trillion is, PageTutor has a great graphic explanation.)

"$1 billion (10 standard shipping pallets stacked with $100 bills) times 48

Ecommerce was just a tiny slice of that $1 trillion in three months, but still respectable. In the second quarter of 2011, ecommerce sales in the U.S. were $48 billion.

"Ecommerce Growth: Twice Retail's": Big dog beside little dog

And wilder still: sales through ecommerce are growing at twice the rate of all retail. In the second quarter of 2011, total retail sales grew by 8.1%; ecommerce sales in the same period grew by 17.6%.

For more about ecommerce, check out the U.S. Census Bureau’s report on retail ecommerce for 2Q 2011 [PDF].

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.


Shopify’s Toronto Office: Opening November 1 at Camaraderie

Platform evangelism central: photo of Joey deVilla's home office

Readers of the Accordion Guy blog will know that I spent the summer doing my “immersion” at my new job as Shopify’s Platform Evangelist at the Shopify offices in Ottawa. When summer ended, so did the immersion, and I returned back home to Accordion City, where I’m doing a fair bit of work from my home office. To get a look at my home setup, go read my blog post titled Old Office, New Office.

Craig Miller

What you might not know is that Shopify recently picked up another employee based in the Greater Toronto Area: Craig Miller (pictured on the right), who used to be the head of product of the Canadian wing of Kijiji, whose parent company is none other than eBay. He’s now Shopify’s VP Marketing.

While my role allows me to be very flexible with where I work, Craig’s requires a more permanent space. After doing a little searching for some suitable digs for Shopify’s Toronto office, he picked a great spot run by some friends of mine: Camaraderie, located on the east side of downtown, a stone’s throw from the financial district.

Photo of Camaraderie's main common space

Camaraderie logoCamaraderie – from the French and meaning “a spirit of friendly good-fellowship – is a coworking space founded by Rachel Young and Wayne “Bunnyhero” Lee, two names that people who follow the Toronto tech and startup scene will recognize.

Photo of Wayne Lee and Rachel Young, sitting side by side at a desk with their laptops

Camaraderie occupies the second and third floors of the building at 102 Adelaide Street East. Like many coworking spaces, it offers a common working area with desks as well as a couple of private offices. There’s also a boardroom, a kitchen on each floor, a small lounge and tech amenities like wifi, printing and scanning. In addition to functioning as an office during business hours, Camaraderie has also opened its doors for events from parties and art shows to Crisis Camp workshops. Camaraderie is a vital part of Toronto’s tech and startup community, and I’m incredibly pleased that I’m adding it to my regular stomping grounds“

Photo of the Camaraderie building: "102 Adelaide St. East (between Church and Jarvis)"

Shopify takes possession of its private office within Camaraderie on Tuesday, November 1st. Craig will be doing his VP Marketing thing at Camaraderie full time. I’m planning on starting the day at the home office and then coming into the office for the afternoon, commuting there by bike as often as possible (the commute on bike takes only slightly longer than the commute by transit). I’m looking forward being a Camaraderie regular!

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.


Most Memory Leaks are Good

most memory leaks are good

Creative Commons photo by Michael Vroegop. Click here to see the original.

Over at the Shopify Technology Blog, Shopify developer Jesse Storimer says that Most Memory Leaks are Good. Here’s the “tl; dr” summary of his article:

Catastrophe! Your app is leaking memory. When it runs in production it crashes and starts raising Errno::ENOMEM exceptions. So you babysit it and restart it consistently so that your app keeps responding.

As hard as you try you don’t see any memory leaks. You use the available tools, but you can’t find the leak. Understanding your full stack, knowing your tools, and good ol’ debugging will help you find that memory leak.


Featured Shopify App: colorandsize

Screenshot of Shopify App StoreThe Shopify platform has a lot of great features "out of the box", and it’s even better with apps — programs and utilities that extend Shopify by adding more capabilities to what’s already built in. If you haven’t done so yet, go and visit our App Store: the one-stop place for apps to enhance your shop in all sorts of ways, from boosting sales to improving the customer experience to simplifying the management of your shop. We’ve got apps aplenty, and more are being added all the time.

colorandsize Icon

Today’s featured app is colorandsize, an app that falls under the category of "simplifying the management of your shop". We asked Retail Technology, the creators of colorsize, some questions and posted their answers below.

What does colorsize do?

Retail Technology logocolorandsize makes managing your product variants a pleasure, saving you valuable time and money. If your shop carries products that come in many colors and sizes, you need colorandsize!

What are the key features of colorandsize?

colorandsize lets you…

  • Quickly create and edit products that come in multiple variants.
  • Manage variant sets such as size ranges that can be quickly re-used.
  • View your sales and stock figures in a clear and simple grid.
  • Quickly receive inventory.
  • Add additional variants to existing products in a few clicks.

Why should shopowners use your app?

Screenshot of colorandsize app

colorandsize will save you valuable time and much effort.

Creating a style available in four colors and six sizes in Shopify takes 2.5 minutes. Using colorandsize to do the same only takes sixty seconds. The time savings adds up: with colorandsize, creating your average seasonal collection can be reduced by a staggering two working days!

colorandsize also simplifies Shopify’s process of receiving inventory, cutting down the time it takes to seconds.

Changing a style’s price in colorandsize is a breeze! It vastly simplifies and speeds up your style editing.

colorandsize also makes it easy to track sales trends based on color and size. It provides a clear and simple overview of your sales and stock, organized by color and size, putting valuable information at your fingertips. This really helps you to manage your stock and to optimize your sales!

colorandsize: clear and simple!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Photo of the colorandsize team, holding champagne flutes

colorandsize is a concept borne from thirty years of first-hand experience in shoe and apparel retail operations. colorandsize is a spin-off brought to you by Retail Technology Limited who specialise in conventional point-of-sale and stock management systems. We service retailers throughout throughout the world.

colorandsize is dedicated to a first-class customer experience and its support team is there to help you every step of the way even if colorandsize really is easy to install and is very intuitive.

Where did you get the idea for the app?

colorandsize believes that the future of retail systems is in the cloud and wants to share its vast experience in the shoe and apparel vertical with other system providers. Further releases of colorandsize will support direct integration with Shopkeep and VendHQ.

Where can I learn more about Color and Size?

colorandsize icon on App Store shelf

You can learn more about colorandsize at the Shopify App Store, as well as through colorandsize, who can be reached in the following ways:

This article also appears in the Shopify Blog.