June 18, 2020
Image: Shopify, Peakpx
Good morning! This Thursday, Shopify has ambitious ecommerce plans, another startup tries to compete with it, the U.S. and EU are fighting about a digital services tax, and Nikola's antics suggest the tech industry is back to normal.
Also, some news! We're moving the best of Index over to our main daily newsletter, Source Code, and I'll be working with Protocol's David Pierce on that. So starting Monday, you'll see Source Code rather than Index in your inbox each morning. And on Fridays, you'll also get an all-new weekly version of Index with deeper analysis and interviews. Please let me know what you want to see in that: firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, thanks for reading.
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I've spent the past few weeks diving deep into the future of ecommerce and Shopify's role in it, and I've come to one big conclusion: Shopify is the most interesting tech company in the world right now. Today on Protocol, I have a story explaining why.
And as ecommerce fragments, with other players all coming for Amazon's crown, that move makes an awful lot of sense.
Shopify's future success doesn't depend on any one platform succeeding. To Shopify, it doesn't matter if you buy Kylie Jenner's lipsticks on Amazon or on Instagram — Shopify takes your subscription fee either way. All Shopify needs is for more people to start selling online, and that seems inevitable.
My full Protocol story dives into much more detail, explaining the rationale behind the Shop app and why Shopify's not too worried about Big Tech competition: Read it here.
Shopify isn't the only company that's realized there's a big opportunity in building an omnichannel ecommerce platform. Ecwid, a freemium player that boasts 1.5 million merchants, is after a piece of the pie too.
That's not the only way Ecwid's taking on Shopify. Much of its team, including Fazlyev, comes from X-Cart, an open-source shopping cart platform founded in 2000. That experience means "we don't waste any time ... we know exactly how to build stuff," Fazlyev said.
Despite all that, it's an uphill battle. Though Ecwid did recently raise $42 million, it's going up against an absolute titan. Fazylev is well aware of that.
When we started Index all the way back in March, it seemed like tech was heading for a big upheaval. Unprofitable companies were going to collapse, startups were going to find it impossible to raise, and IPOs were utterly out of the question. So it seems fitting to bring this incarnation of Index to a close with new news about Nikola, the electric truck company. After a Bloomberg report accused the company of exaggerating its debut truck's capabilities, CEO Trevor Milton went on a Twitter tirade against the journalist, saying he will be "suing the shit" out of the "hackjob" writer. Nikola, for those keeping track, is worth $23 billion without a single cent in revenue. Truly, the tech industry is back to normal.
Thank you to Tim Grieve and Jamie Condliffe, my editors, for all their help; and thanks to all the Protocol staff for their contributions to Index. Most of all, thanks to you for reading each day. I'll be back with the all-new Index next Friday — see you then.