Canva, a Sydney-based graphic design start-up, has become Australia’s latest tech “unicorn”, after closing a funding round valuing its operations at $US1 billion ($1.3 billion).
The company on Tuesday announced it had raised $US40 million from investors including the Chinese arm of vaunted Silicon Valley investment firm Sequoia Capital and existing shareholders Blackbird Ventures and Felicis Ventures.
Sydney-based Melanie Perkins has turned her graphic design start-up into a billion dollar business.
Co-founder Melanie Perkins said the company was profitable and didn’t need the money but was offered terms too good to refuse.
The startup, whose apps help advertisers and companies create banners, logos and presentations, plans to double its workforce of 250 staff over the next year, she added.
“It’d be crazy not to take it,” she said.
“We can grow our team as rapidly as we can and know that we’ve got the financial backing to make those decisions very easily.”
Canva’s latest round of funding makes it a ‘unicorn’, a private company valued at $US1 billion or more. That’s a rare startup success for Australia’s technology scene: only eight of its listed technology companies are worth more than $US1 billion compared with 18 companies in metals and mining alone, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
In December, Melbourne based construction software firm Aconex agreed to be acquired by software giant Oracle for $1.6 billion.
In a column for Fairfax Media in 2015, Perkins said the idea for the company came to her while teaching at university in 2006. She also made the 2017 Young Rich List, with an estimated net worth of $128 million.
Canva’s shareholder register is literally star-studded. It has previously attracted funding from Hollywood stars Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson and Lars Rasmussen of Google Maps and Wave fame, who Perkins said played a key role in the growth of the company.
“The second day I went to San Francisco, I pitched him the idea for Canva, literally on paper pitch decks,” Perkins said.
We can grow our team as rapidly as we can and know that we’ve got the financial backing to make those decisions very easily
Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins
“Fortunately rather than thinking I was crazy, he helped us comb over resumes of all the people that were trying to get into our tech team, and he rejected every last one of them,”
According to Canva’s website, the service has more than 10 million users, who upload photos or select stock images and use preset filters and fonts to customise designs. It also links with printing providers who can create actual physical banners and displays.
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. Photo: Josh Robenstone
According to financial records lodged with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Canva more than tripled revenue to $23.5 million and narrowed after-tax losses to $3.3 million in the 12 months ended June 2017.
“What this round really enables us to do is to have the jet power just to do absolutely anything that we need to do to make Canva awesome,” she said.