New Billionaire Tobias Lütke

Shopify Inc., Canada’s tech darling, may never been founded if Tobias Lütke hadn’t met Fiona McKean. Lütke, a coder with a love of snowboarding, was visiting Whistler, B.C. from his native Germany when he met McKean. The two started dating, and Lütke eventually moved from Germany to Ottawa to be with McKean. (They’re now married.)

After settling in Ottawa, Lütke started a business to sell snowboards online. He coded the ecommerce software himself because the existing solutions were subpar, in his opinion. He and his partners quickly realized that the real product was Lütke’s software and launched Shopify in 2006. The company provides a platform for merchants to sell goods and services online that has proven to be massive popular in the era of ecommerce. More than 500,000 merchants use Shopify today, though the group of active users is about a tenth that size.
The company went public in 2015 and now carries a $12-billion valuation, making Lütke a very wealthy man—not that he flaunts it. Though he reportedly owns a Tesla, Lütke often rides his bike to work. Shopify has recently come under attack from by a short-selling firm Citron Research, which questions whether the high-flying tech firm deserves a premium valuation. The market appears to believe it does: Shopify’s shares are up 120 per cent this year.