WATCH: Shopify’s Tobi Lütke fireside and AMA with Satish Kanwar

BetaKit Town Hall
Shopify CEO asks for a conversation about “courage” and “ambition” at BetaKit Town Hall.

The BetaKit Town Hall convened Canadian founders and leaders to assess the current state of the nation’s tech sector, and Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke leaned into the theme of “tough love.”

“A highly competitive, world-beating, world-class, product-creating, exporting startup culture is built one step at a time. It’s the end result of many, many compounding cycles.” 

The CEO of Canada’s most valuable tech company spelled out his stance on Canada’s innovation challenges and opportunities with his former colleague Satish Kanwar, BetaKit board chair and co-founder of Good Future, during a fireside discussion and AMA in Toronto.

While Lütke said he would choose to start another company in the country, he also noted that “Canada has to have a conversation about courage and Canada has to have a conversation about ambition.”  

Following the release of the federal budget last month, which proposed lifting the inclusion rate businesses pay on capital gains from 50 percent to 66.7 percent, Lütke wrote on X, “Message from a friend: ‘Canada has heard rumors about innovation and is determined to leave no stone unturned in deterring it.’”

Lütke was not alone. The proposed capital gains tax changes have struck a nerve with Canada’s tech sector. Thousands have signed an open letter urging Ottawa to reconsider, arguing that the changes could severely hinder innovation and the ability of Canadian companies to scale domestically.

When it came to innovation policy, Shopify’s CEO had a lot to say.

“I don’t think innovation comes from government policy; governments push from behind once the markets test something of merit.”

Lütke was just one of the Canadian tech leaders invited to share their thoughts on Canadian tech and the many headwinds it’s facing, as well as the federal government’s response to the country’s new and longstanding innovation issues.

Watch the full fireside and AMA conversation between Tobi Lütke and Satish Kanwar via the video below.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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