Canadian software maker Shopify valued at $2 billion in U.S. debut

(Reuters) - Canadian e-commerce software maker Shopify Inc's SHOP.NSH.TO shares rose as much as 69 percent in their U.S. debut, valuing the company at about $2.14 billion.

Shopify founder and Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke (2nd L, with hat) waits for the company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Shopify, which also debuted on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday, is the first Canadian company to be listed on a U.S. exchange this year.

Several Canadian technology companies are planning to go public as optimism about tech startups boosts valuations and spurs early investors to cash out.

Four Canadian companies listed in the United States last year, with their IPOs raising about $517 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Ottawa-based Shopify helps small- and medium-sized retailers set up their online stores for a monthly subscription fee of $29-$179.

“My only concern is where the stock will be in 12-24 months, and can we take a great company we have and turn it into something which is long lasting,” Chief Executive Tobias Lutke said.

Shopify raised about $131 million from its initial public offering of 7.7 million class A subordinate shares, after it was priced at $17 per share, above the top end of the expected range of $14-$16.

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The company sold all the shares in the offering.

The offering was massively oversubscribed with demand exceeding $1 billion, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters.

Shopify’s software has a lot of growth potential as it becomes popular among businesses, said Jay Ritter, IPO expert and professor at the University of Florida.

“We are growing much faster than everyone else. It is not a very competitive field right now,” Lutke said.

Shopify, founded by Lutke in 2006, more than quadrupled its workforce to 632 employees in the past three years.

Bessemer Venture Partners is the company’s biggest shareholder with a 30 percent stake, while FirstMark Capital LP holds nearly 12 percent.

Shopify’s net loss narrowed to $4.53 million in the quarter ended March 31 from $6.37 million a year earlier, while revenue nearly doubled to $37.35 million.

The company’s shares were up 51.2 percent at $25.72 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock, which was the top percentage gainer on the exchange, opened at $28 and hit a high of $28.70.

The company’s Canada-listed shares rose to a high of C$35.03 ($28.73).

Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Raymond James and RBC Dominion Securities are among the underwriters for the IPO.

Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Kirti Pandey