/ 16 September 2021

Canva designs a big future

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If a startup business achieves ‘unicorn’ status when it reaches a valuation of $1 billion, the folks at digital design disruptors Canva need to build a stable… The rising Aussie tech company’s valuation has reached $54.6 billion (US$40 billion) – up from $20 billion in April. If it was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, it would be a top 10 company ahead of long time corporate giants like Woolworths and Rio Tinto. And it makes the 8yo business with founders aged in their 30s the most valuable private consumer software company ever.

Let’s start with the who. Melanie Perkins and her then-boyfriend/now-husband Cliff Obrecht started ​​Fusion Books in 2006 as a textbook design business from her mum’s living room. And after a lot of hustle, Canva was launched in 2012 with Google employee Cameron Adams bringing the technical expertise to deliver on their “massive vision”. Based in Sydney, Canva now employs more than 2,000 people – most of whom came onboard last year. As for the what: it’s “an online design and publishing tool with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere.” And it’s working… The company has more than 60 million monthly active users, and it’s on track to exceed $1.3 billion in annual revenue by the end of the year. A rarity in the tech startup world – Canva has been cash-flow positive since 2017.

Lots of head down, bum up. Perkins yesterday told reporters that they are “only 1% of the way there.” To fund that sort of growth, it’s long been speculated that Canva will go public, probably on the New York Stock Exchange. However, the business has built up a significant war chest thanks to recent capital raising rounds, so the team says listing not a priority. The soaring value has made the trio billionaires, but it’s unlikely a fancy yacht is in their futures… Perkins and Obrecht have made the commitment to give their $16.5 billion fortune away. “The opportunity that we have is only superseded by the responsibility we feel. We hope we can live up to it over the years to come,” Perkins tweeted yesterday.

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