Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP) recently raised $488 million in cash through the sale of stock. The company has a very strong balance sheet with no debt and $883 million in cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities. Last year, Shopify acquired Kit CRM and Boltmade after a similar cash raise. Investors now wonder if another acquisition could be on the horizon.

Here is a look at last year's purchases and what they may reveal about Shopify's acquisition style.

Shopify app on a laptop, tablet, and a mobile phone.

Image source: Shopify.


Shopify announced in April 2016 it was purchasing Kit CRM. The privately held company was founded in 2013, headquartered in San Francisco, and had less than 50 employees.Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The company's app provides store owners with an online virtual marketing assistant that interfaces with their clients via text messaging. Information about daily sales, what products are selling, and where the products are being purchased is pushed out to the merchant. Next come recommendations as to potential flash sales on specific products as well as requests to advertise on various social platforms. The goal is to increase sales and a grow the online business. 

The business seems to fit well within Shopify as was stated by Kit founder and CEO Michael Perry at the time of the acquisition. Shopify is the ideal company to acquire Kit," Perry said, according to Venture Beat. "Their commitment to business owners and their view of the future is directly aligned with our own mission and goals. We both want small business owners and entrepreneurs to be successful. 

During Shopify's next quarterly conference call, nearly four months after the acquisition was announced, investors learned that Kit had nearly doubled the number of installs its app had on the Shopify platform since becoming part of Shopify. No number was given. 

Today the Kit management team remains in place, working for Shopify as it helps serve merchants. 


Shopify purchased Boltmade Inc. in October 2016 and terms of the deal to bolster Shopify Plus -- a cloud-based product aimed at high-growth, high-volume merchants -- were not disclosed. Like Kit CRM, it was a privately held company, founded in 2013, with a small number of employees, 21. It was probably an easy decision to pull all the employees into Shopify Plus office space for closer collaboration as both are in Waterloo, Ontario. 

Founded by CEO Jim Murphy and vice president of Engineering Ben Morris, Boltmade focused on software development services, with cloud development being the company's specialty. The company prided itself on its culture. Whereas many small companies in start-up mode see employees coming and going on a rather frequent basis, Boltmade had a stable group of employees that grew over time. 

Shopify purchased Boltmade to help Shopify Plus grow its merchant business. Shopify Plus is aimed at bigger customers with large online stores. Bringing in 21 talented software designers all at once can really help a company accelerate its product schedule and Boltmade could help Shopify draw in more large customers.

Common features of both acquisitions

Based on these two examples, Shopify's acquisition strategy seems to focus on small companies that can bring a talented group of employees into Shopify with minimal integration issues. The management teams from both companies continue to work for Shopify.  

In the case of Kit CRM, an actual tool, the virtual marketing assistant, was fully integrated into Shopify's product. Boltmade was bought to help accelerate new product design for Shopify Plus.

Two factors that stand out for both companies is that they were founder-led businesses with successful work cultures focused on helping customers. This is quite similar to what we find at Shopify itself.

Whether Shopify uses some of its new-found cash to make additional acquisitions is yet to be seen. From analyzing its past acquisitions, investors should at least be comforted in knowing that its prior investments appear to be working.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.