Design app Canva doubles valuation to $6 billion, plans US expansion

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Melanie Perkins, Co-founder & CEO, Canva, on creatiff Stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2019 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal, November 5, 2019.

Eóin Noonan | Sportsfile | Getty Images

Canva has raised $60 million in an investment round that values the Australian design start-up at $6 billion, almost double what it was worth when it last raised capital in October.

The investment round was co-led by Blackbird Ventures and Sequoia China, while other existing backers such as Bond — the venture fund of former tech investment banker Mary Meeker — and Felicis Ventures also bought new shares.

Sydney-based Canva has surged in popularity thanks to its easy-to-use app for designing everything from logos to Instagram posts. The platform now has over 30 million monthly active users across 190 countries, who have collectively made over 3 billion designs to date.

But it’s Canva’s paid offerings, Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise, that have become the main revenue generators for its business. The company is taking on industry giants like Adobe and Microsoft while, at the same time, aiming to make design and publishing more accessible than platforms from larger rivals.

Canva, which was previously challenging its U.S. rivals from abroad, is now looking to open a new office in Austin, Texas.

While the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to open new real estate, Chief Operating Officer Cliff Obrecht told CNBC that the firm is in the “final stages” of negotiating office space in the city.

“The combination of a huge number of our users — particularly enterprises — being based in the U.S. and the amazing talent available in Austin was really the driving force to set up an office there,” Obrecht said in an interview Monday.

The pandemic also had an impact on Canva’s print business, which saw a 75% drop in revenue compared to average performance. Obrecht said that this hit was limited, however, adding that it has “bounced back” to pre-coronavirus levels while core revenues actually saw a 30% uptick on average as more businesses were forced to move their operations online.

Canva prides itself on being a profitable venture, with its most recently available accounts showing it made a $1.86 million net profit on $25.1 million revenue in the first half of 2017. And the company claims to have been in the black ever since.

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins told CNBC last year that the firm had taken steps to ensure it could stand on its own two feet before taking on external capital that allowed it to become profitable.

“Not having outside investors that had opinions about what we were doing gave us the time and space to build a profitable company to build a product,” she said.

Co-founder couple Perkins and Obrecht came up with the idea for Canva in 2006 when they built an online yearbook design business together. Perkins said she would earn some money on the side teaching other students design programs from Adobe and Microsoft, but that her peers often found those platforms to be too complex.

With a $6 billion valuation, Canva is now one of the world’s top so-called “unicorn” companies — private tech companies with a market value of $1 billion or more. It is the largest unicorn in Australia by far, with $1.6 billion fintech firm Airwallex trailing behind, according to data from CB Insights.

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