Tobias Lütke

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Tobias Lütke

Lütke in 2019
Born (1981-07-16) July 16, 1981 (age 42)
  • Canadian
  • German
Other namesTobi Lütke
OccupationCEO of Shopify
SpouseFiona McKean

Tobias "Tobi" Lütke MSC is a German/Canadian entrepreneur who is the co-founder and CEO of Shopify, an e-commerce company based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. [2] [3] [4] He has been part of the core team of the Ruby on Rails framework and has created open source libraries such as Active Merchant. [5] As of 2022, he was the 11th richest Canadian. [6]


Early life

Lütke was born in Koblenz, Germany in 1981. [7] He received a Schneider CPC (German brand of the Amstrad Colour Personal Computer distributed by the Schneider Rundfunkwerke AG) from his parents at the age of six. [8] [9] By 11 or 12, he began rewriting the code of the games he played and modifying computer hardware as a hobby. Lütke dropped out of school and entered an apprenticeship program at the Koblenzer Carl-Benz-School to become a computer programmer after tenth grade. [10] [11] He moved from Germany to Canada in 2002. [8] [10]

Lütke cites John Carmack's .plan-files from the mid-1990's as "making a huge impression" [12] on him as a teenager and calls them a "a master class in systems design". [13]


In 2004, Lütke, along with his partners, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake, launched Snowdevil, an online snowboard shop. [3] [14] [15] Lütke built a new e-commerce platform for the site, using Ruby on Rails. [16] [11] [17] Soon after, the Snowdevil founders shifted their focus from snowboards to e-commerce and launched Shopify in 2006. [18] [19] [20] He currently owns 7% of Shopify, which went public in 2015. [21] Despite controlling a minority of the shares outstanding, he controls a 40% voting interest in Shopify due to a two-class voting structure. [22]

The Globe and Mail named Lütke "CEO of the Year" in November 2014. [23] [24] Lütke was presented with the Meritorious Service Cross on November 5, 2018, for his work in supporting the growth of the Canadian technology industry. [25] In 2019, Lütke donated $1,000,001 to Team Trees, the biggest donation as of May 10, 2023, with the message, "For the Lorax". [26] In 2021, Lütke donated $1,200,001 to Team Seas, the 4th biggest donation as of May 10, 2023, with the message "For the Lorax... but wet.". [27]

On September 8, 2021, it was announced that Lütke, along with former and current Shopify top executives and Celtic House Venture Partners, invested $3 million in Creative Layer, "a global personalized print-on-demand platform for managing Shopify orders, proofs, fulfillment, and team members". [28]

On January 31, 2022, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced Lütke would join its board of directors. [29]

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  1. Tobias Lütke [@tobi] (January 26, 2022). "Got my German citizenship back today Feeling incredibly grateful to be part of two such inspiring nations" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 26, 2022 via Twitter.
  2. "First family of Shopify to restore Opinicon resort". January 28, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
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  6. "Falling fortune: Shopify co-founder Tobi Lütke drops from second to 11th on Canada's rich list – Ottawa Business Journal". April 20, 2022. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  7. "Schulversager, Programmier-Genie, Milliardär". September 7, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  8. 1 2 "Our Canadian CEO of the year you've probably never heard of". November 27, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  9. "Ich war ein miserabler Schüler". November 30, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  10. 1 2 "Shopify: Koblenzer revolutioniert Onlineshops". May 2, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Against the Grain" (PDF). Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  12. @tobi (February 11, 2021). "Had occasion to remember this series of articles by @ID_AA_Carmack from (I think?) August 1996 that ended up making a huge impression on me as a kid" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  13. @tobi (February 11, 2021). "The post are fun. Not only is it a master class in systems design it's also so... driven?" (Tweet) via Twitter.
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  15. "Finding Business Motivation in Industry Leaders". January 10, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
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  18. "FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES: #1 - Shopify". May 3, 2010. Archived from the original on May 6, 2010. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  19. "Zwei Deutsche mischen Kanadas Gründerszene auf". May 12, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  20. "Shopify auf der Überholspur". February 10, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  21. "Tobi Lutke". Forbes. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  22. "Shopify shareholders approve founder's share for Tobi Lütke in preliminary tally". financialpost. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  23. "Shopify's Tobias Lutke Crowned CEO of 2014". November 27, 2014. Archived from the original on December 31, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  24. Knowlton Thomas (November 27, 2014). "Tobias Lutke Crowned CEO of 2014" . Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  25. Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (November 1, 2018). "Governor General to Honour Remarkable Canadians at Rideau Hall". The Governor General of Canada. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  26. "Team Trees Official Website". #teamtrees. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  27. "Help us remove 30 million pounds of trash by January 1, 2022 - Join #TeamSeas". Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  28. "Creative Layer Receives $3 Million Investment from Tobi Lütke, Celtic House Venture Partners & Other Notable Investors". financialpost. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  29. "Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke to join board at cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase". CBC . The Canadian Press. January 31, 2022. Archived from the original on January 31, 2022.