Shopify

Intro: My 3rd Trip to SxSW

Joey deVilla plays accordion at the "How to Rawk SxSW" panel as Rannie Turingan looks on

Hello, Austin! I made a splash at my first SxSW (2008) by playing accordion at the “How to Rawk SxSW” session.

Accordion Guy's Dispatches from SxSW InteractiveOnce again, I’m going to Austin, Texas to attend the South by Southwest conference, the annual get-together of techies and creatives in the music, film and interactive industries. I’ve gone twice before:

  • In 2008, as a newly-minted employee (project manager) of b5media. In fact, it may have been my best first day on the job ever, flying to Austin and meeting up with my new coworkers at the ranch that b5 had rented.
  • In 2011, as a ready-to-leave employee of Microsoft and a ready-to-start future employee of Shopify. I went to help out with the launch of Internet Explorer 9 and talk about Windows Phone. I also met up with the folks from Shopify, signed an employment contract with them and filed my resignation from the country music-themed bar at the Austin airport. I consider it to be my best “Sign me up / I quit” day ever.

This year, I return as Shopify’s Platform Evangelist and also as a speaker! I’ll be part of the BarCamp Tour Panel in the session 5 Brands Travel the US Inspiring Entrepreneurship. Along with my friends from Batchbook, Grashopper, MailChimp and Wufoo, I’ll be talking about our very active participation in and sponsorship of BarCamp events across the United States. My session will be on Sunday, March 11th at the hangover-friendly time slot of 3:30 – 4:30p.m. in the Omni Downtown Hotel’s Lone Star room.

I’ll be filing dispatches about SxSW from all over the place: on my way there, while in Austin, and even when I high-tail it out of there and head to Tampa to spend some time with the New Special Friend. Keep an eye on these blog entries – I’m sure they’ll be pretty interesting!

Doing SxSW Like a Local

Do It Like a Local is a new video of SxSW survival tips and recommendations created by locals – the founders of the creative agency Flow and Bobby Johns, the general manager of Hotel San Jose — who’ve done the conference and know the ins and outs of Austin. The suggestions within are worth the seven minutes and seven seconds to watch this video!

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Shopify Makes Fast Company’s “50 Most Innovative Companies” List

Fast Company / The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies - featuring Shopify

We’re in good company: along with Amazon, Square and Patagonia, Shopify made Fast Company’s “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” list in the “Retail” category. Here’s what they wrote:

For democratizing and automating ecommerce tools. Shopify offers pre-made templates that allow people to quickly and easily set up an online store without needing to know how to code a website. Shopify creates tools and templates to power online storefronts. (Notable clients include Rovio, Angry Birds’ parent company, and GE.) Shopify has grown to almost 20,000 storefronts in 88 countries, which did a combined $275 million in online sales, up from $120 million in 2010. Up next: Making it as easy to buy sell to mobile customers.

Join Us, It’s Bliss!

Shopify standard issue gear: Apple 27" display, MacBook Pro, Apple Wireless Keyboard, Aeron chair, Apple Magic Mouse, Bag O' Stuff

Even more Shopify standard issue gear: Light grey Shopify t-shirt, dark grey Shopify t-shirt, light grey Shopify hoodie, neat pen, Moleskine notebook, Godiva chocolates, $100 restaurant gift card, $50 Apple Store gift card

If making the Fast Company list doesn’t impress you, maybe my earlier article about why Shopify’s a great place to work will. From the company’s success to interesting projects to the way we get stuff done to the cool gear that’s standard issue for Shopify employees (see the photo above; you get to pick between a MacBook Pro and MacBook Air these days), there are reasons aplenty to hitch your wagon to Shopify’s star.

We’re looking to fill these positions right now:

Software Engineer, Applications
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Shopify is looking to hire a Software Engineer for our growing Applications Team. The Applications Team is responsible for building supported Shopify Applications for the Shopify App Store as well as 3rd party applications. If you are interested in working on challenging Ruby on Rails projects with a team of highly motivated and talented individuals then this position is for you.

Software Engineer, Billing
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Shopify is looking to hire a Software Engineer to maintain and extend our sophisticated SaaS billing platform servicing over 20,000 merchants. The Shopify billing system is a core piece of infrastructure that handles millions of dollars of financial transactions. If you are interested in working on challenging Ruby projects with a team of highly motivated and talented individuals then this position is for you.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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Old Office, New Office

by Joey deVilla on September 6, 2011

Summer Sojourn’s End

Joey's car (Black Honda CR-V), packed to the gills, with a red bike in the rear-mounted bike rack.

My summer immersion term at Shopify ended on Friday. I’d found my niche within the company, gotten to know the team and was ready to continue working remotely. It was time to return to Accordion City.

I moved out of the furnished apartment they provided me for the summer – affectionately dubbed the “Swank Tank” – a day early because I had a business trip to Montreal and packed everything I’d brought with me and picked up over the summer into my car. I tucked my car into Edward’s driveway for the couple of days I was away, far enough out of sight of the kind of people who break into cars to help themselves to the loot inside.

Between not knowing how much kitchen stuff would be provided by the Swank Tank’s proprietors, wanting to have a good chunk of my home office material handy over the summer and just being be ready for anything, I overpacked when I left for Ottawa in May. I’d also picked up a couple of large items over the summer, including a new monitor and bike. Looking at my car, you’d think that I’d made a permanent move and not just gone somewhere else for the summer.

I decided to wait out the Labour Day Friday cottager traffic and make the five-hour road trip from Ottawa to Toronto in the evening. I had dinner at the Smoque Shack with my coworkers Liz, Julie, Nick and Brian, picked up my car at Edward’s and went into the Shopify office one more time to get the last of my stuff.

Old Office

Here’s the entrance stairway to the current office. This won’t be our current office for too much longer; we’re moving into a newer, larger space a couple of blocks down the street later this fall:

The entry stairway to the Shopify offices

Here’s the reception area and lobby, as it appeared at 9:30-ish on Friday night:

The reception desk and lobby at Shopify

Offices take on an eerie, haunted sort of vibe late at night, so I decided to snap a couple of pictures. Here’s the “Fishtank”, the glass-enclosed room where Shopify’s design team works:

The empty desks of Shopify's design team room

The Fishtank has a big glass wall that looks out onto the main “bullpen”:

The big glass wall in the Shopify Fishtank looking out onto the main office

Right across the hall from the Fishtank is the boardroom, which you may remember from the Epic Meal Time video that was shot at our offices; this is where the final tasting scene was shot:

Shopify's boardroom, with cardboard animal "trophies" hanging on the far wall

By some strange coincidence, whenever I get an assigned space at an office – something that hasn’t happened since I left Tucows in late 2007 –- I usually get the “Keanu Reeves Location”: a desk situated in the dead centre of the mass of desks (just like his character in The Matrix had). I had that spot in the Shopify office:

Two rows of empty desks in the centre aisle of Shopify's main office

Here’s my old desk, all clear and ready for the next person to occupy it. I took the Shopify standard-issue 15” MacBook Pro, Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard with me, but left the Cinema Display and Aeron chair behind. It would’ve been nice to take both back to the home office with me, if I’d had the room in the car:

A desk that is empty except for an Apple monitor

New Office

This year’s been a bit of a weird one. Between being in the hospital, several trips (two of which lasted nearly two weeks each) and being in Ottawa for the summer, home wasn’t where I lived; it had become a nice place to visit. The (not so) recent change in the domestic situation also meant a few changes in the layout of my apartment, including a chance to reclaim the home office. I got the basics done before I left and did some serious setup over the Labour Day weekend. The results are shown below.

Here’s what you see as you enter the new home office:

Carpeted apartment bedroom converted into a home office, showing a long desk with computers and a window looking out onto treetops

Here’s a closer look at the desk. I bought it at Cooper’s old Queen Street location back in 1997 for what seemed like a lot of money back then, and it’s served me well over the years. It was originally L-shaped, but over the years, I’ve reconfigured it in all sorts of ways: L-shaped, split into two desks and finally, as a single long workstation:

Joey's workstation, as seen from the left

Here’s the desk from the other side:

Joey's workstation, as seen from the right

Opposite the desk: a set of matching shelves and a lot of organizers I’ve picked up over the years. I used to have more programming books – they used to eat up shelves – but in the age of PDFs and the iPad (plus the fact that the half-life of a tech book seems to be nine months these days), most of my tech library is in electronic form now:

Bookshelves packed with books, plus photo boxes of files and many plastic bins full of wiring and other tech equipment

Here’s another view of the whole office. The window looks west out onto the courtyard behind my building, and beyond that, the tree-lined Gothic Avenue:

Joey's home office as seen from the desks, showing a windows overlooking treetops and the bookshelves and organizers

The left side is the Windows half of the desk. My main Windows machine is the Dell 15” laptop I got as one of my fabulous parting gifts from Microsoft. The monitor is one I bought as a present to myself shortly after joining The Empire just before my birthday in 1998. And hey, who wouldn’t want to have an Xbox in their office?

The left side of Joey's workstation, with a Dell 15" laptop, 25" Samsung monitor, Wacom drawing tablet, Xbox and wireless controller and office chair

On the right side of the desk: the Mac side. That’s a 15” MacBook Pro driving a 24” LED Cinema Display that I bought from my coworker Nick just before heading back home. Note the Avenue Q “The Internet is for Porn” mousepad just to the left of the keyboard.

The right side of Joey's workstation, showing a 15" Mackbook Pro, 24" Apple monitor, several organizing containers and a "The Internet is for Porn" mousepad

The New Old Routine

Today’s my first day back at my old routine as a mobile worker. I’ll get a fair bit of work done at the home office, but I’ll also be mixing it up by being on the road, plus working at some alternate locations because I don’t like being a shut-in.

The view from the front of Cafe Novo, a cafe that opens out onto Bloor Street

I’m a member of the Hacklab, which gives me 24/7 access to their Kensington Market space; it’s often empty during the day. There are also a number of work-friendly wifi-equipped cafes where I hang out, both close to home in High Park (I’ll write about them soon) as well as closer downtown. And finally, I’ve got a fair bit of travel in my future – so much that I’m getting my Nexus card next month – which means I’ll be working from hotels, cafes, airport lounges, BarCamps, other people’s offices and so on.

It’s going to be an interesting fall.

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

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What I Wore to the Company Picnic

by Joey deVilla on August 19, 2011

Like a boss

One week ago today, Shopify had its company picnic. We were divided into volleyball teams, each of which had to come up with not just a name, but a theme and costume. My team were “The Hefs”, in tribute to Hugh Hefner. Hence the outfit and pipe. Since I added the cowboy hat and shades and my bathrobe was terry as opposed to silk, I think my “look” came off more like a cross between Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Dr. “Trapper John” McIntyre from M*A*S*H than everyone’s favourite gentlemen’s magazine publisher.

Still: can I rock a pipe or can I rock a pipe?

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BarCamp Seattle

seattle barcamp

This weekend, I’ll be in Seattle for BarCamp as part of the BarCamp tour, a cross-North-America sponsorship put together by five startups: Batchblue, Grasshopper, MailChimp, Wufoo and the company for whom I am representative, Shopify.

BarCamp is an unconference – a gathering that turns the traditional notion of a “conference” upside-down. Rather than the content being determined by its organizers, it’s determined by the attendees. At the start of the conference, any attendee can propose a session topic, and if it’s accepted by the group, that session gets put on the schedule grid and assigned a time slot and a room. Sessions themselves are somewhat different from sessions at a traditional conference: while there’s still roles akin to a “presenter” or “presenters” and an “audience”, the line between the two is considerably more fuzzy. They’re closer in spirit to open discussions rather than lectures.

barcamp-tour-logo

BarCamp Tour are not your typical sponsors. Just as BarCamp is an unconference that turns the notion of a conference upside-down, you might say that we’re “unsponsors” doing the same to what is traditionally viewed as sponsorship. Yes, we provide funding to various BarCamps, but we do something that most sponsors don’t do: we show up and participate. We help out the organizers with everything from putting together parties to helping move furniture and clean up. We take part in the sessions, sometimes as participants in the “audience”, sometimes as “presenters”. While we do promote our companies, it’s not in a hard-sell way, and often, we do it by listening to and learning from the people there – after all, they’re potential customers, partners and even hires.

BarCamp Seattle takes place this weekend on Saturday, June 24th and Sunday June 25th at the Adobe Conference Center in Seattle’s Fremont neighbourhood (801 N 34th Street). Saturday is a full day with check-in starting at 8:00 a.m. and the unconference kicking into full swing at 9:00 a.m.; Sunday is a half day with check-in starting around 8:00 a.m. (emphasis on around; there’s a party on Saturday night) and the unconference resuming at 9:00 a.m..

BarCamp Seattle, like all BarCamps, is free but you need to register. To register, visit BarCamp Seattle’s EventBrite page.

BarCamp New Orleans

barcamp new orleans

My next BarCamp will be BarCamp New Orleans, also known as BarCamp NOLA. I’m rather looking forward to this one for a few reasons:

BarCamp New Orleans takes place on Saturday, July 16th and Sunday, July 17th at the Launch Pad coworking/startup space (643 Magazine Street, Suite 102). Registration on the Saturday is at a very civilized 9:30 a.m. with the unconference getting into full swing at 10:00 a.m. and running until 5:00 p.m.. Sunday is a “Hack Day” with registration at 9:30 a.m., start at 10:00 a.m. and running until 5:00 p.m..

Like all BarCamps, BarCamp New Orleans is free but you need to register. You should register soon – only 76 spaces remain as of this writing!

BarCamp Toronto

barcamp-toronto-anyone

A couple of weeks ago, I put out the call for help in getting together a BarCamp in Accordion City. We haven’t had one in four years and I think it’s about time! The other folks on the BarCamp Tour, most notably Jonathan Kay of Grasshopper who absolutely loves “Toe-RON-toe”, have expressed interest in having one in Canada and are willing to be a sponsor.

A great collection of people have stepped forward and volunteered to help. I’ll be meeting with them online very shortly (I’m in Ottawa for the summer, but I return to Accordion City in the fall) to discuss what happens next, but know this: the first step toward bringing BarCamp back to Toronto has been made.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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New Business Card, New Email Address

by Joey deVilla on May 16, 2011

Shopify business card back

It’s high time I got some business cards made. A good chunk of my job involves meeting new people and starting an ongoing relationship between them and Shopify. Even in the online age, business cards remain a vital part of the tech evangelist’s toolkit, along with meeting up in person (as they often say, “You had to be there”).

Shopify’s business card template features the company logo and wordmark on the back (pictured above). The front features contact info and a photo so you can very easily match the name to the face. The photos are taken by a fellow Shopifolk, Ben Courtice (he’s a great photog; every Shopifolk seems to have a special creative talent) who works in the Guru Room (the Gurus are people who help out customers get started with their Shopify stores).

We decided to go for an action shot with the accordion. I played and sang some numbers while Ben took pictures:

Ben Courtice taking photos of Joey deVilla as he plays accordion

And here’s the end result, complete with accordion, aloha shirt and smiling/singing mug:

Joey devilla business card front

I love it!

By the way, note the new, shortened-for-easy-entry email: joey@shopify.com. If you want to reach me at Shopify, that’s the way to do it!

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

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Erika Moen’s Comics and Shopify

by Joey deVilla on May 11, 2011

We Shopifolks like to travel far and wide. While I was off in Minneapolis for MinneBar, my developer advocate teammate David Underwood was in Toronto attending TCAF, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. While there, he met Erika Moen, the comic artist behind the autobiographical DAR ("A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary")…

alt

and her current comic, Bucko, a delightfully twisted murder mystery:

alt

When David told her that he worked at Shopify (in fact, he and I started on the same day), she told us that she loved us. And not just by saying so, but also with an autographed comic book, which is now sitting in the Shopifort:

Autographed copy of Erika Moen's

Why does Erika love Shopify? Because she has a Shopify store! She sells her comic books, prints, posters and other art on a store she built with Shopify:

Screenshot of Erika Moen's Shopify store

Go check out Erika’s site, read her comics and buy her stuff! And if you’ve got your own comics (or anything else) that you want to sell online, sell them with Shopify!

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.

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