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Canva Reaches $15 Billion Valuation, Making Cofounders Melanie Perkins And Cliff Obrecht Billionaires

Less than a year after securing a $6 billion valuation amid a pandemic usage boost, design unicorn Canva has more than doubled the valuation for its design software tools — making two of its cofounders billionaires in the process.

Sydney, Australia-based Canva announced Tuesday it raised $71 million in new funding led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer at a $15 billion valuation. Existing investors including Blackbird Ventures and Skip Capital joined the round. Canva, which says it remains profitable, also announced that its business has passed $500 million in annualized revenue, up 130% from the year before.

With the new funding, cofounder and CEO Melanie Perkins, as well cofounder and COO Cliff Obrecht, are both billionaires. Forbes estimates that Perkins and Obrecht, who married in January 2021, each owned about 15% of Canva prior to the investment, with minimal dilution from the new raise. At a $15 billion valuation, the couple each would hold stakes worth about $2 billion. (Forbes applies a 10% discount to private company valuations.)

Launched in 2013, when a third cofounder, Cameron Adams, joined Perkins and Obrecht, Canva overcame an unlikely origin story and home base of Australia to build a global business that already boasted 20 million users as of December 2019, when Perkins appeared on the cover of Forbes.

Today, that number stands at 55 million active users, three million of them paid, Adams said in an interview. Originally popular for lightweight design tools that made it easy for small- and medium-sized businesses to draft print and digital assets like menus and Instagram cards, Canva has since grown into more of a real-time collaboration suite, Adams argues.

Of particular focus during the pandemic: presentations, the company’s fastest-growing document type, and to which it has added features recently such as presenter video recording tools and a live, Q&A friendly version.

While Canva claims that more than 85% of the 500 largest companies in the U.S. by revenue use Canva in some capacity, most users don’t pay for the service, and in many of those companies, Canva’s still early in the process of “freemium” software companies to expand to paid, company-wide use. In recent months, real-time features to allow for live team editing of videos and other digital assets has spurred such adoption, Adams says. Some of Canva’s banner customers: American Airlines, Kimberly-Clark, McKinsey and Salesforce.

With the funding, Canva plans to continue to invest in product, which also means hiring; the company’s second-largest office remains in Manila, but Canva recently opened a presence in Austin, Texas, and has hired a handful of staff in San Francisco, too. “This will continue to help us focus on building the product, and particularly building for the workplace, which is an area we see as the biggest opportunity that we’ve had so far in our nine short years,” Adams says.

Adams’ own stake in Canva — and net worth, at least on paper — isn’t currently known, and the cofounder declined to comment on specifics. Net worths, or status as some of Australia’s richest self-made entrepreneurs, are not something that he, Perkins and Obrecht discuss, he says. “We don’t focus too much on the numbers … it’s more about building out the product and growing Canva globally.”

Talking about a $15 billion valuation, however, is more welcome if it can open more eyes to what Canva’s building, he admits. “Our mission is to empower the world to design. And to do that, we need people to know about it.”

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