Canva raises another $125M, creating billionaires


// The Perth-born design tech company’s latest raise triples their valuation from only 18 months ago…

From an online school year book design company to Australia’s largest unicorn, Mel Perkins and Cliff Obrecht have navigated quite a journey since being introduced to Silicon-Valley based VC Bill Tai at the WA Innovator of the Year Awards a few years ago.

As he told our own Startup West podcast last year, Bill was one of the first to see the potential of the new business, famously bringing in former Google Maps (then Facebook) executive Lars Rasmussen to help fund the formation of the startup’s first tech team.

At those early stages, Melbourne based VC Blackbird Ventures invested, and they won a Commercialisation Australia grant (the forerunner of Accelerating Commercialisation). Later two Hollywood actors, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson famously invested. They were well on their way.

At the beginning of 2018, they reached official ‘unicorn status’ (valuation of US$1M+ while still being a private company), at the time the only Australian company to be so. Atlassian had listed on the NYSE, and been a former unicorn.

18 months later, their latest $125M raise now values the company at A$4.7B, triple what it was then, and makes Mel and Cliff combined billionaires, with their collective shares worth a cool $1.35B.

The latest round included investments from US-based Bessemer Venture Partners as well as Bond Capital (Mary Meeker’s new VC firm), General Catalyst, Blackbird Ventures and Sequoia China.

A few months ago, Mel and Cliff both announced their engagement. Could life be any sweeter?

In July, Cliff and Mel announced their engagement on Facebook: “Got engaged to my best friend Melanie Perkins after 14 adventure filled years ?” (Photo: Facebook)

Earlier this year, they also acquired the free stock photo sites Pexels and Pixabay, and have eyes on knocking off Powerpoint as the most preferred presentation tool. Reports show the company is profitable, has 600 staff and 20 million monthly users.

So it’s onwards and upwards for Canva. They’ll always be a Perth-born startup, even though they left for Sydney years ago.

The question is: how many other Canvas are out there in startupland…?


MAIN IMAGE: Canva cofounders COO Cliff Obrecht, CEO Melanie Perkins and CPO Cameron Adams. (Photo supplied.)