- Shopify has continued to invest in startups despite a recent downturn in tech and e-commerce.
- It often invests in startups that are building beneficial merchant-focused software.
- Shopify has shown a special interest in marketing, personalization, and Web3.
Shopify is continuing to invest in up-and-coming tech companies this year, despite a general slowdown in e-commerce growth that has brought its business — and stock — back to earth.
When looking at Shopify’s investments so far in 2022, a few major trends stand out. One is that the e-commerce company has funded a number of startups working on personalization and marketing, like Klaviyo. These startups are aiming to give brands coping with higher digital-advertising costs a boost as policies around consumer privacy change.
It has also backed startups like Single that are aiming to make online shopping more engaging and interactive.
Overall, Shopify tends to invest in companies that will help its merchants’ businesses and grow its ecosystem of apps.
“It’s like, I want to make it so a business doesn’t have to leave our ecosystem to do anything else,” Laura Kennedy, a senior lead analyst at CB Insights, said of Shopify’s strategy.
Shopify has made several big investments over its history, including stakes in Affirm and Stripe, the latter of which industry experts have long expected to launch an IPO. Both of those startups build payment technologies that Shopify’s merchants use.
Shopify has also made a number of acquisitions, including its $2.1 billion acquisition of Deliverr that closed on July 8.
Kennedy told Insider that even small startup investments from Shopify can give an “early view” into what the e-commerce company may be interested in pursuing further down the line.
Shopify also isn’t the only retail company to keep up its investments despite a difficult economic climate. Walmart, for example, bought Memomi, an AI startup, in June and is now acquiring Delivery Drivers Inc., the gig-labor management company behind its Spark network.
“I’ve just found it striking that we hear so much about this consumer slowdown, but there’s still investment happening,” Kennedy said. “There’s still money earmarked for innovation and technology with these retailers.”
Here are the startups that Shopify has invested in so far this year in reverse-chronological order:
Thirdweb is a developer platform that makes it easier to launch Web3 apps. Users can build things like blockchain games, NFT marketplaces, and token-gated experiences. Thirdweb’s tools are compatible with a number of blockchains, including ethereum, polygon, and optimism.
Shopify participated in Thirdweb’s $24 million Series A, which the company announced on August 25. Haun Ventures led the round, and Coinbase also participated.
The goal is to make Thirdweb’s tools available to Shopify merchants who want to bring Web3 products and experiences to their online stores.
“Together we will ensure the Shopify developer ecosystem has the tools they need to effectively build for web3,” Thirdweb said in a tweet thread about its new funding.
Gorgias is a customer-service startup that helps merchants selling on Shopify and other e-commerce platforms provide automated and personalized responses to customer questions. It centralizes customer-support tickets from merchants’ live chat, email, phone, SMS, messaging apps, and social-media channels in one place so that merchants find them easier to tackle.
Companies like Princess Polly, Steve Madden, and Olipop are already using the software.
Shopify recently participated in Gorgias’ $30 million Series C round, which valued the startup at $710 million. Transpose Platform, Jason Lemkin of SaaStr, and Rajeev Dham of Sapphire Ventures also contributed to the round, announced August 15.
“As multichannel commerce has become the norm, Gorgias is a critical tool for our merchants who use it to centralize and uplevel customer support,” Bram Sugarman, the director of corporate development at Shopify, said in a press release about the fundraise.
Klaviyo helps online merchants analyze customer data and create automated marketing messages sent via email and text message. It has more than 100,000 users including Unilever, Solo Stove, and Dermalogica.
On August 2, Klaviyo announced that it had received a $100 million investment from Shopify. Executives also said it had entered into a strategic partnership that included naming Klaviyo a recommended email solution for Shopify Plus merchants. The two companies will also collaborate on future software products.
“Klaviyo is a shining example of the outsized impact Shopify’s app and partner ecosystem can have on the next generation of commerce solutions for independent brands,” Harley Finkelstein, the president of Shopify, said in a press release about the partnership.
Klaviyo has raised $778.5 million in venture funding and was valued at $9.5 billion at the time of its Series D funding round in May 2021.
Single makes an app that enables merchants to sell music, NFTs, and access to livestreamed events on their Shopify stores.
Single said on July 22 that it had received a strategic investment from Shopify. It also launched a token-gated commerce-and-content feature on its Shopify app. Shopify executives have previously spoken about how they view NFTs as a way for merchants to engage their biggest fans with exclusive products and experiences.
“The launch of Single’s new artist- and creator-focused features in their Shopify App helps more merchants unlock new and engaging commerce experiences,” Chevy Walcott, the corporate-development manager at Shopify, said in a press release about the investment. “Our investment in Single and our growing blockchain ecosystem demonstrates our commitment to further grow participation in Web 3.0 and expand commerce possibilities for creatives, artists and musicians.”
Sanity aims to make content creation more flexible for brands. As part of the partnership, Sanity launched a new direct integration with Shopify’s headless-commerce stack, called Hydrogen, making it easier to use Sanity’s tools to build custom storefronts.
“Working closely with Sanity is a strategic priority for us since having great content capabilities is paramount for merchants to offer great commerce experiences,” Brandon Chu, the vice president of product acceleration at Shopify, said in a press release about the investment.
Companies that use Sanity’s software include Burger King, AT&T, Puma, and Unilever.
Codat provides financial-integration software for companies that work with small businesses. It helps its clients to access customers’ data, standardize it across platforms, and analyze it.
Codat’s clients include digital-lending companies like Pipe and Clearco, financial institutions like Allianz and Experian, and payment processors like Zettle and Comma. It also works with SaaS, or software-as-a-service, companies that target small businesses.
Shopify participated in Codat’s $100 million Series C, along with JP Morgan Growth Equity Partners, Canapi Ventures, Plaid, Index Ventures, and PayPal Ventures.
“We’re thrilled to participate in Codat’s Series C because we know how important it is for our merchants to have all of their systems in sync,” Jeff Kennedy, the senior corporate-development lead at Shopify, said in a press release about Codat’s fundraise. “Unlocking this connectivity is the key to helping them scale more efficiently.”
Crossing Minds announced it had received a strategic investment from Shopify on April 21. Its technology also became available to Shopify merchants following the announcement.
“As we aim to make commerce better for everyone, our strategic investment in Crossing Minds will further provide merchants with a unique solution to provide relevant product recommendations and personalized experiences to meet customer’s evolving needs,” Fjolla Bakalli, the manager of corporate development and strategic initiatives at Shopify, said in a press release about the investment. The company did not disclose the amount of the investment.
Disco is building a network of brands that are banding together to lower customer-acquisition costs. Brands can get data from other merchants that have similar shoppers and use those insights to market to potential new customers. The DTC brands using Disco include Parade, Girlfriend Collective, Faherty, Milk Bar, and Caraway.
Disco announced its $20 million Series A on March 4. Felicis Ventures led the Series A, but the round also included contributions from Shopify, Sugar Capital, Bessemer Ventures Partners, and others. Shopify also participated in Disco’s seed round in 2021, back when the startup called itself Co-op Commerce.
“Helping merchants drive sales to each other is not only positive for the community, but for consumers who are increasingly looking to support independent brands,” Sugarman said in a press release at the time.
Flexport is a freight-forwarding company that plans the movement of goods across different modes of transportation, including ocean shipping, air cargo, rail, and trucking. Different merchants used its technology to ship about $19 billion in merchandise in 112 countries in 2021, according to the company.
Flexport announced it had received a strategic investment from Shopify as part of its $935 million Series E on February 7. Andreessen Horowitz, MSD Partners, DST Global, Founders Fund, and SoftBank Vision Fund 1 also participated in the Series E.
“At Shopify, we see first-hand the challenges millions of entrepreneurs face when running their businesses, with logistics being one of the most daunting complexities in commerce today,” Sugarman said in a press release about the funding. “We are so inspired by the progress Flexport has made in this critical area and are excited to support them in their ambitious mission to modernize the supply chain, breaking down barriers to trade for businesses everywhere.”