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Shopify just made a $2 billion windfall on Affirm IPO, six months after their partnership
PUBLISHED WED, JAN 13 20211:16 PM EST UPDATED WED, JAN 13 20211:54 PM EST Ari Levy@LEVYNEWS CNBC,com
-- As part of a partnership formed in July, Shopify owns over 20 million shares of Affirm.
-- Based on Affirm’s stock price after its debut on Wednesday, Shopify’s stake is worth about $2 billion.
-- It’s the latest boon for Shopify, whose shares almost tripled last year as the pandemic forced more consumers to the web for purchases.
Shopify just came off a huge growth year as the Covid-19 pandemic spurred massive growth in online shopping. Now it’s starting 2021 with a bang thanks to an 8% stake in Affirm, the year’s first notable tech IPO.
Both companies have seen their businesses explode since early last year, when Covid-19 forced physical retailers to close, giving consumers even more of an incentive to shop online.
Shopify’s stock price almost tripled in valued in 2020, as retail chains, restaurants and grocery stores turned to its software to create quick web storefronts, manage payments and keep their businesses running. Its market cap has surpassed $140 billion. Affirm, founded in 2012, partners with retailers to offer consumer loans, allowing buyers to pay for items like Peloton bikes, Dyson vacuum cleaners and Oscar de la Renta handbags in installments.
The two companies forged a partnership in July for online lender Affirm to become the exclusive provider or point-of-sale financing for Shop Pay, Shopify’s checkout service. As part of the deal, Shopify was granted warrants to buy up to 20.3 million shares in Affirm.
With Affirm’s Nasdaq debut on Wednesday, Shopify’s stake is worth about $1.9 billion. Affirm jumped 98% to $96.84 as of early afternoon in New York.
With the partnership, Affirm became the provider of Shopify’s new “buy now, pay later” financing service called Shop Pay Installments, which launched for some U.S. merchants late last year.
Affirm said in its prospectus that the Shopify deal allowed it “to significantly expand the number of merchants and consumers on our platform.” Shopify serves more than a million businesses, and said in October that third quarter gross merchandise volume more than doubled from a year earlier to $30.9 billion.
A the time of the announcement, CEO and founder Max Levchin told CNBC that Shopify and Affirm will have a “tightly integrated partnership” that lets merchants “flip a switch” to have the product go live.
“We expect massive uptake,” Levchin said in the interview. “By making the integration so easy, we expect it to be extremely close to total ubiquity.”
The merchant diversification that Shopify provides is important for Affirm, which counted on Peloton for 30% of revenue in the latest period.
But gaining access to Shopify’s expansive customer base came at a steep cost — Affirm gave Shopify the right to buy over 20 million shares at a penny each. A quarter of shares issued in the original warrant vested in July. The remaining 15.2 million vested with the IPO.
Shopify Slips After Warning Revenue Growth Will Slow in 2021
By \ Danielle Bochove Bloomberg February 17, 2021, 6:22 AM CST Updated on February 17, 2021, 3:44 PM CST
-- Company says it will ‘aggressively’ reinvest in products
-- Gross merchandise value nearly doubles in 4Q to $41.1 billion
Canadian e-commerce firm Shopify Inc. says it will take advantage of “unprecedented opportunities” in 2021 to speed up innovation and expand into new markets, but warned that its growth rate will slow.
Revenue will grow “rapidly” this year but not as quickly as in 2020, when it increased 86% to $2.93 billion, the company said Wednesday. It didn’t give specific guidance on earnings for the current year. The arrival of vaccines could see some consumer spending rotate back to bricks-and-mortar retailers, Ottawa-based Shopify said.
Shopify fell as much as 8.8% in intraday trade in New York before recovering to close down 3.3% at $1,425.
Revenue in the fourth quarter was $978 million, soaring past analysts’ forecasts for $910 million, propelled by a boom in online shopping during the global pandemic. The company said it plans to reinvest gross profits “back into our business as aggressively as we can.”
Shopify is investing in product marketing and in-country sales teams in countries where it already has a good foothold, President Harley Finkelstein said on a conference call, but intends to take a “meticulous and very strategic approach” to international expansion.
“Some other countries that we have on our radar, we don’t think it’s the right time to go really deep. That will happen in the future,” he said. Gross merchandise value -- the broadest measure of product sales flowing through Shopify’s platform -- was $41.1 billion in the fourth quarter, up 99% from the same quarter a year earlier, helped by soaring demand for online shopping during the global pandemic. Full-year GMV was $119.6 billion.
“I think you have some profit-taking and I think investor expectations were very, very high,” Jefferies analyst Samad Samana said of the share decline. On the earnings, Samana said: “We view it as a capstone to an incredible 2020, a year in which they saw growth that nobody could have anticipated.”
Shopify will spend money to improve its software platform and develop its payments, shipping, capital and Shopify Plus products, the company said in a presentation to investors.
Other highlights in the earnings report:
The company posted fourth quarter adjusted earnings of $1.58 per share that beat analyst estimates of $1.21 per share.
-- Revenue of $977.7 million was nearly double the $505.2 million a year earlier.
-- Shopify expects the first quarter of 2021 to contribute the smallest share of this year’s sales and Q4 the largest.
-- Retailers from from Under Armour Inc. to Coach parent Tapestry Inc. have seen continuing strength in online sales as the pandemic lingers. That said, bricks-and-mortar retailers are still hoping for a recovery in 2021 as vaccination efforts gain momentum.
Some analysts have questioned whether Shopify’s growth trajectory is sustainable. However, big Wall Street names continue to pump billions of dollars into online retailers.
Since it was founded in 2004, Shopify has expanded from a core software business, helping businesses get online quickly, to providing an array of services to companies including payments, lending, and shipping.
-- Shares of Shopify soared 11.4% on Wednesday after the company crushed expectations in its first-quarter earnings report.
-- Shopify executives warned that revenue growth could moderate this year as Covid-19 vaccine rollout speeds up and consumers return to stores as more states start to lift coronavirus restrictions.
Shares of Shopify jumped as much as 11.4% on Wednesday after the Canadian company, which makes tools for companies to sell products online, reported first-quarter results that crushed analysts’ expectations.
For the first quarter, Shopify posted revenue of $988.6 million, which was up a whopping 110% compared with a year prior and trounced consensus estimates of $862.7 million. Adjusted earnings per share were $2.01, more than triple Wall Street’s projected 75 cents per share.
Shopify’s net income was boosted by a $1.3 billion unrealized gain on its investment in online payments company Affirm, which went public in January. As part of a partnership formed last July, Shopify owns more than 20 million shares of Affirm.
Shopify became one of the biggest winners of the pandemic-fueled shift to e-commerce, as many brick-and-mortar stores temporarily shuttered and people opted to stay indoors to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Shopify’s stock price surged in 2020 on the back of that momentum.
Investors are now hoping Shopify will continue to attract more businesses who are looking to build a digital presence, even after the economy continues to reopen and consumers head back to physical stores.
Shopify cautioned that it expects revenue to keep growing in 2021, but at a slower rate than what it experienced last year.
“Our full-year 2021 outlook is guided by assumptions that remain unchanged from February: that as countries continue to roll out vaccines in 2021 and populations are able to move about more freely, the overall economic environment will likely improve; some consumer spending will likely rotate back to offline retail and services; and the ongoing shift to ecommerce, which accelerated in 2020, will likely resume a more normalized pace of growth,” Shopify said in its earnings release.
On Wednesday’s earnings call with investors, Shopify executives said that even in areas where economies have reopened, merchants are still seeing strong demand.
-- Google is deepening its partnership with Shopify by letting the company’s more than 1 million merchants make their products more discoverable in Google Search and elsewhere.
-- Shopify’s stock rose following the announcement.
-- Google and Shopify are increasingly competing against Amazon in the e-commerce and advertising markets.
Google is deepening its partnership with Shopify by making it easier for the company’s 1.7 million merchants to reach shoppers in Google Search and across some of its other properties.
The move comes as Google and Shopify are ramping up their efforts to compete against Amazon in e-commerce. Amazon is also increasingly competing with Google on search ads for commercial queries, which typically mean a consumer is actively considering a purchase, and is expected to earn 19% of all search ad revenue this year, compared with about 57% for Google, according to eMarketer.
Shares of Shopify popped as much as 4% on the news, closing up more than 3% on the day.
Google made the announcement during its conference for software developers, Google I/O, which kicked off on Tuesday. The company didn’t offer many details about the integration, but it said it will allow Shopify businesses to appear across Google Search, Maps, Lens, Images and YouTube “with just a few clicks.”
In a blog post, Google said this will make Shopify merchants’ products more discoverable across its various properties.
“We believe you deserve the most choice available and we’ll continue to innovate on shopping every step of the way,” said Bill Ready, president of commerce and payments at Google, during a presentation at I/O.
Separately, the company announced other enhancements to its e-commerce functionality: For instance, Google’s Chrome browser will persistently display shopping carts when people open new tabs, so they can return to shopping after doing other tasks. At the start of the pandemic, Google said it was waiving commission fees for merchants that participate in its “Buy” program, which allows consumers to search for and check out retailers’ products directly on its platform without being directed to retailers’ sites. The company also said it would be opening its platform to third-party providers, including PayPal and Shopify, to allow retailers more buying options outside of its own platform.
Google is trying again to ramp up its e-commerce efforts, as the pandemic has created long-lasting demand for online buying, which Google’s competitors have cashed in on.
In a blog post, the company said, “As we eliminate barriers like fees and improve our technology, we’ve seen a 70% increase in the size of our product catalog and an 80% increase in merchants on our platform.”
The pandemic supercharged Amazon's ecommerce machine — but the same phenomenon strengthened a rising rival, Shopify, which takes a very different approach to selling online.
The company positions itself as a counterpoint to Amazon by enabling smaller merchants to create their own stores and develop their own relationships with customers.
Financial services have become a big part of the company's business. By providing payment processing, point of sale systems and loans, Shopify is seeking to provide everything a small business owner needs to operate a business online. The goal is to become an all-in-one business dashboard for these merchants.
Shopify had revenue of $988.6 million in the first quarter, up 110% year-over-year. Its gross payments volume, a measure of gross merchandise volume processed in-house through Shopify Payments, was $17.3 billion in the first quarter, or 46% of GMV processed, up from 42% in the same period a year ago.
Merchant solutions revenue, which makes up the majority of Shopify's business and includes Shopify Payments, Shopify Shipping and Shopify Capital, grew 137% to $668 million in the first quarter.
We spoke with Kaz Nejatian, vice president of product for merchant services at Shopify, who manages about half of the Shopify product team, including banking services, billing, payments, taxes and foreign exchange.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
How do you decide which fintech products to build yourself versus work with a partner?
This is the meta question we always ask. We care about the merchant experience and the merchant pain. And if we can solve it while partnering, we will. So the product we use is called Shopify Payments. We actually co-built that product with Stripe, it didn't exist before Shopify and Stripe built it together.
So we think something similar is true for our banking products. We have partners in the space, we have Stripe and a bunch of banks underneath them. So yes, we're partnering, but we're literally building that from the ground up.
We don't want to be In the finance space, it's just that banks refuse to deal with our merchants. If I could find banks that will serve our merchants, we'd get out of the business really fast. The problem is the institutional banking system is stacked against merchants.
We think the banking system is inherently unfair to small merchants, and especially unfair to small merchants who don't come from prestigious schools in big cities. The banking system probably works fine if your name is Mike. But it does not work fine if your name is Muhammad.
Shopify loaned $308.6 million in the first quarter, up from $162.4 million a year ago. Why has Shopify Capital become such a big part of your business?
When the pandemic hit, literally every single bank and online lender withdrew money and said, "Nope, we're not doing loans." That same day Shopify said, "We're doubling down, we're putting a couple hundred million more into the system today." The reason for that is we don't view our Capital business as a cash cow designed to make money off lending.
We view it as a way of making our merchants successful. If our merchants are successful, we're successful in the long run. So our time horizon on payback is different.
So the second thing is, we fund our merchants from $200 up to $1 million. One of our merchants, a T-shirt company [called] Cuts Clothing, has used Shopify Capital 10 times. We've funded them with $2,000, then tens of thousands of dollars, then hundreds of thousands of dollars. They got a $1 million round from us in 2020. These guys would have been laughed out of a bank.
We think of it as a runway extension model for our merchants to help them grow. And we don't look at things [that] banks look at, [like] business plans or credit scores or personal guarantees. We look at millions of data points on the Shopify platform to underwrite each merchant.
Merchants don't need to provide data?
The way Shopify Capital works is that we just underwrite you based on the data already in Shopify. We don't ask for any information. There's no application process. We predict what will happen with extra capital for the business. And if the business is better off with extra capital, we make an offer.
So the types of companies you would want to find would be different from competitors?
Yes, the majority of the reason we're in this business is because banks would reject our merchants over and over again. We have so many stories of minority entrepreneurs who've been rejected by a bank and then see, "Oh, I have an offer from Shopify!" Because merchants know they're ready to grow — and we know. And banks don't.
What's Shopify's goal in terms of payments?
There's just over 700 payment processors for Shopify. Shopify has been accepting cryptocurrency since 2014 — one of the first places to do it. Our general strategy here is we want our merchants to be able to sell to customers with their preferred payment method whenever possible. So we have our own Shopify Payments product, which is a credit card processor. We have Shop Pay, which is the highest converting payment wallet on the internet. We've shared that the Shop [app] now has tens of millions of users.
The single largest problem for our merchants today is usually from the parts of the world where payments on the internet are broken. This is why we invest so much of our time thinking about how we can expand payment processing options for our merchants.
So we have Shop Pay, which I think is the best payment on mobile. And we also have bank payments on Shopify, we allow alternative methods like installments, we have local pay methods in dozens of countries. And we're always working on adding more options into the system.
Why have your own app?
We think of Shop as a shopping destination that allows our merchants to establish deep relationships with their buyers. And the meta effect of Shop is that the future of commerce must be decentralized and led by brands, and not centralized and basic.
Look, I think centralized marketplaces have a place, but it's not a great thing for the world where brands can't build a relationship with the consumer, right?
And what centralized marketplaces have done is they've promoted a consumerist vision of the world where you can buy everything. But none of it has any value. None of it has any story behind it. And that's just not great for the world.
How many people are actually paying Shopify with crypto?
It's not high right now. It is some, it's not nothing. What we think is super interesting is the way crypto helps trust between merchants and buyers. And that's what we're working on. Think about provable ownership — how a merchant can transfer to a buyer a proof of ownership and authenticity. Like, this is internet-native, authentic ownership that allows creators to put their name on a tangible thing. And we think that's super interesting.
When you buy a T-shirt from Cuts, you want people to know it's from Cuts. It's an ethically-made, comfortable T-shirt made by a brand you respect. We think cryptocurrencies are a super interesting way to prove ownership. And that's something that shakes the foundations of "big is good."
What's the goal with your point of sale system?
The all new point of sale is available in the U.S. and Canada; we've launched in the U.K. and Ireland. It's not just a point of sale system. What it's designed to do is turn what would have been cashiers into salespeople, and to extend the relationship. So Allbirds, a Shopify merchant — when you buy something online and you can pick it up in store. If you live in New York, you just buy it at Allbirds and go pick it up. It's just down the street from you. You could also walk into a store, buy a thing, and say, "Hey, look, I'm going to go for dinner, could you just please ship this to my house because you have my address?"
On Tuesday, Shopify announced another major shift. The ecommerce company said it would give merchants on Facebook and Google access to Shop Pay, its payments and checkout tool — including those that don't use Shopify.
It's a big move that underscores Shopify's transformation, IDC analyst Jordan Jewell said.
"They're mostly a payments company in terms of revenue," Jewell said. "They're bringing in two-thirds of their revenue or more from merchant solutions. That part of the business is growing much faster than the subscription revenue."
This trend has become more pronounced during the pandemic. Last year, Shopify's core subscription software business posted revenue of $279 million in Q4 of 2020, up more than 50% year-over-year. But its merchant solutions business, which includes Shop Pay, grew even faster and became an even bigger part of the company's total business, recording revenue of $698 million that quarter, more than double the previous year.
Shopify's momentum and its aggressive expansion to new areas are turning the spotlight on its rivalry with the giant of ecommerce, Amazon. "Amazon actually views them somewhat as a threat," Jewell said.
That competition has been brewing for years. Jewell cited Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke's famous quote in 2019 when he said, "Amazon is trying to build an empire, and Shopify is trying to arm the rebels."
It's a view that Carl Rivera, Shopify's vice president of product who is spearheading the Google and Facebook payments deal, reaffirmed in an interview with Protocol. He also explained why the company is reaching out to non-Shopify merchants.
This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
Why give non-Shopify merchants access to your checkout and payments tool?
It's pretty straightforward. Shopify's mission since forever is to make commerce better for everyone. After some time, we realized that the best way for us to make commerce better for everyone is to not just think about the merchants, but also to think about their customers and how we can accelerate them through the checkout. Now, we're not just going to think about Shopify merchants. We're also going to think about all the merchants and all customers.
What were the hurdles? What were the things that you and other team members were worried about?
A general truth for product development is that the simpler something feels, the harder it is to build. You think about bringing what is the easiest way to check out from an online store to millions of merchants — obviously there were a ton of technical considerations that we had to take into account to make this experience a reality.
Can you give an example?
A large part for us is: How do we work with authentication and identity? How can we ensure that this is super fast and super secure at the same time, and figure out how [those] transition and handshake moments should happen? That was something we spent a lot of time talking about and discussing.
It's tougher because you're dealing with merchants who are not in your world, so to speak.
When you're building on your own platform, you have full control of every aspect and angle. And when you're building together with a partner, it requires a super close collaboration and a really high level of trust where you can really open up and say, "Here's where we're at with that product. Where are you at in terms of receiving the right API calls," and so forth. This wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the very high level of trust that exists between us and these partners. I've been super encouraged to see the news coming out from both of those companies over the past. You can tell that they're increasingly taking commerce more and more seriously.
Shopify clearly grew during the pandemic. Your merchant solutions business, which includes payments, is accelerating much faster than the core business.
Shopify is in the business of making merchants successful. When we think about payment volume, we think of it mostly as a proxy for merchants' success. We will do whatever it takes to make our merchants successful or any merchants that use Shopify services. We know that Shop Pay is one of the things that makes merchants more successful. This is fully why we're pursuing this opportunity.
There's just an abundance of players in the payment space. I continue to be surprised just how little innovation there's been in this space. And so we don't compare ourselves to any payment provider or any wallet in particular. But we find that we stand out quite a bit just by thinking about this space a little bit differently.
What I got from that response is that there's more to come when it comes to payments.
It's certainly fair to say that Shop Pay is in the beginning of its journey. We think very highly of this product. We already see what kind of results it brings. It's certainly no secret that we have even higher ambitions for this product, and look forward to seeing it continue to grow.
There is also the view that you're increasingly becoming a competitor with Amazon.
I think Amazon is an incredible company that has had a lot of success over the years. They're taking an approach to ecommerce that is working really well for them. We're taking a very different approach that seems to be working superbly for Shopify. We're bullish about the path that we're taking. This is the first product that we're launching to non-Shopify merchants and we're going to see how this transpires and see what use they get out of it.
Can you talk about how Shopify went through the past year when the pandemic was raging?
It was a crazy time. We were gearing up for the launch of Shop, which is something that we've been working on for a long period of time. Then the pandemic happened. All of a sudden, all bets are off. Tobi [Lutke] sent out an important letter to the entire company and said this is probably one of the most important times in the history of this company where we need to show up for our merchants. We cut timelines for all of the projects that we were pursuing. We asked ourselves the really hard questions, like "Is this the thing that's going to drive the most merchant impact today? Can we get it out yesterday?" I think Tobi said this best about ecommerce: COVID didn't change anything. It just accelerated all of the things that were already happening. That's really what's happening. It's not that we changed trajectory or changed the path. We just accelerated all of the paths that we were already on.
Tobi also famously said that Shopify's goal is to "arm the rebels" — the merchants — against Amazon. You're laughing. How do you reflect on that statement as you're pursuing these new initiatives?
I think that the rally cry of arming the rebels is a great one. We truly try to as much as possible democratize ecommerce. We believe that the future of commerce benefits from more voices, not fewer. What Shopify is doing is really leveling the playing field where these first-time sellers get a really sophisticated, super-advanced platform that allows them to compete.
So giving non-Shopify merchants access to your technology is a way of arming even more rebels.
Yeah, I totally agree with that sentiment. I think that's absolutely right. Again, our mission is not to make commerce better for Shopify merchants. It is: Let's make commerce better for everyone. The future of commerce will benefit from more voices, not fewer.
(Reuters) -Canada’s e-commerce giant Shopify Inc beat second-quarter revenue expectations on Wednesday, on the back of a resilient online shopping trend precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Shopify fired on all cylinders in our second quarter, keeping our merchants well equipped to seize the opportunities presented in a post-pandemic retail era,” said Amy Shapero, Shopify’s chief financial officer.
U.S.-listed shares of Shopify rose 2% in premarket trading.
Shopify’s value nearly tripled over the last year due to unprecedented growth of the e-commerce sector as customers looked towards online shopping as the only viable alternative during the pandemic.
“I think the Delta variant and re-emergence of COVID-19 ends up further ingraining the shift to digital commerce for consumers,” said Ygal Arounian, analyst at Wedbush Securities.
“It is likely that, even if we are not getting full closures, physical shopping is one area consumers pull back on, given how comfortable people have become shopping online,” he added.
Net income rose to $879.1 million, or $6.90 per share, from about $36 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier. The jump in net income was due to the inclusion of $778 million of unrealized gains on its equity investments, Shopify said.
The company’s revenue rose 57% to $1.12 billion for the quarter ended June 30, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $1.05 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
This is the first time ever that Shopify’s quarterly revenue has surpassed $1 billion.
Gross merchandise volume, a widely watched figure for the e-commerce industry’s performance, rose 40% to $42.2 billion in the quarter. Analysts on average had expected $40.49 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Excluding items, the company earned $2.24 per share, above estimates of 97 cents per share.
Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri
Shopify is edging closer to bricks-and-mortar retail after leaked documents show that it has filed a patent for a system of sensors that can measure traffic in retail store.
The application is further evidence the company is looking to go head-to-head with ecommerce giant Amazon which has expanded its bricks-and-mortar footprint exponentially over the past 12 months.
The filed patent appears similar to the same “Just Walk Out” tech that Amazon has deployed across its grocery stores in the UK.
It was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office on May 25, 2020, and published November 25, 2021 and describes a system of sensors that is able to measure the density and behaviour of shoppers in specific areas of a retail store.
The technology could be used to help a store owner determine what it is worth to display certain products in specific locations in the store.
Currently, manufacturers pay “slotting fees” to display products in a store, however the patent application points out that not all locations in the store get the same level of attention from customers visiting.
READ MORE: Meta takes aim at Shopify with leaked shopping plans“From the perspective of a merchant that is interested in purchasing (or leasing) display space in a retail store, not all regions of the retail store are equally desirable,” the patent application reads.
“Advantageously, traffic density can provide a quantitative, accurate and unbiased metric with which to determine a value associated with displaying products in a region.”
The data could also include the number of shoppers that enter a part of the shop at a certain time, the average amount of time they spend in that area and the number of customers who interact with physical products over a specific time period.
The application was also filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office and is currently pending under review.
While Shopify is primarily recognised as being an ecommerce platform, it does have a number of services which give clients the ability to offer an omnichannel experience.
Every Shopify plan comes with POS Lite, which includes mobile and hardware point-of-sale accessories.
The Pro plan includes better features such as inventory-management, buying online and pick up in-store capabilities.