Shopify (SHOP  ) opened 15% higher to new, all-time highs following better than expected fourth-quarter results and 2020 guidance. In a milestone for the company, it reported more than a million merchants were on its platform.

Shopify has been one of the biggest winners in this stock market. It's nearly 40% higher since the start of the year, more than 300% since the last major market bottom in December 2018, and 3,100% higher since it made its public debut in May 2015.

Inside the Numbers

Shopify reported fourth-quarter earnings per share of $0.43 per share which was above consensus expectations of $0.24 per share. Revenue came in 47% higher than the fourth quarter of 2018 at $505.2 million which was higher than analysts' consensus of $482.1 million.

While the top and bottom-line results were impressive, the stock's post-earnings gain was largely due to its optimism about the upcoming year. Shopify expects revenue between $2.13 and $2.16 billion which was above analysts' expectations of $2.11 billion. The company's platform continues to add sellers at a rapid pace. In total, its sellers totaled $2.9 billion in revenue between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Company Story and History

Shopify is an online platform that allows anyone to quickly set up an online store to sell their products. The company earns a piece of the revenue generated by the sellers on its platform who are technically its customers. It also makes tools and other add-ons to help its customers grow and manage their businesses.

In a sense, it's creating its own ecosystem of entrepreneurs. As online commerce keeps taking a bigger chunk of the overall spending pie, Shopify is poised to be one of the big winners. Another perspective is that it's selling the tools and raw materials to people looking to get into the online spending "gold rush". Like many great businesses, it started to fill the founder and CEO Tobias Lutke's desire to sell snowboards online. He found the task formidable and challenging despite his technical expertise. This started his journey to build Shopify to simplify and streamline the process for sellers.