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Canva becomes Australia’s only privately backed tech startup to be valued at $1B (bloomberg.com)
65 points by dannyw 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments



Worked at Canva two years ago - what an incredibly bright team! CEO Melanie Perkins is an inspiring visionary. Congratulations on the new valuation!


Same here! Worked at Canva during 2016. One of the most amazing experiences in my life so far.


Amazing product. Curious on what their stack is like?


Depends on the role; check out the job profiles here https://about.canva.com/careers/sydney/


FOMO for those RSUs? ;)


I use Canva a ton for simple graphic designs. It's great that you can access it wherever there's a browser, use it for (mostly) free, and it's extremely user-friendly. Great product, good to see them doing well!


This is what I like most about Canva too. They are always improving their tool with new UI and features without ever forcing me to buy the "Canva for work". They are also great at accepting feedbacks.


How does it compare with h5mag.com, which is what I currently use to do all this .. ?


So all it takes for a unicorn to exist is somebody buying a billionth of a company for $1.


Please don't post unsubstantive comments here.


Yes but they spent 40m. Hardly the same thing.


After tax loss of 3.3 million while having a revenue of 23.5 million Australian Dollars and this company gets this crazy high valuation... Puh it worked for Facebook but they were attracting users like crazy. I don’t know much about canva so maybe someone that knows better can explain to me what makes their product so special?


It's basically the most promising competitor to Photoshop for creating graphics.

Very cool product.


I just gave it a go and it didn't really look like a Photoshop replacement, more like a really trimmed version of Photoshop. But for the usecases it serves, it's probably enough. Not an expert in this domain but I'm struggling to see its value at $1B. May be the community is high quality and large?


Some of it surely has to do with the hype around Adobe and their switch to recurring revenue, SaaS style products.

It has thrown their stock through the roof. Their stock was essentially dead in the water from 2000 to 2012. $30 to $185 since then. Pull back on their chart to the max time frame, and it's hilarious looking in the spike versus the past.

They've been given a ~60 PE ratio, for 15%-20% growth and a rather old-fashion boring product. But it's cloud! Recurring revenue! Throw enough of that together with a stock market bubble and you get a 80% jump in the stock in one year.

That's the most plausible argument in favor of Canva getting their crazy valuation, it matches the insanity of Adobe's valuation. It's obvious what happens on the back side of that insanity too.


It does seem like the tech industry has a particular culpability for market valuations not matching actual technical potential.

Cloud was the old (but still functional) blockchain when it comes to buzz words.


I'd rather value Canva 1B than many more Snapchat--which does nothing useful (to cite 1 of them).

It is definitely not a replacement, but people often use Photoshop for touching up photos and create small banners and stuff like that, which Canva does wonderfully and helps you out with templates.


You don't think a communication device used by hundreds of millions of people should be or potentially be worth billions of dollars? There are few things more important to people than communication.

I don't particularly like Snapchat, I do however entirely get why it's valuable. There's room to debate whether it's worth $5 billion or $15 billion, I don't believe there's any room for debate on whether it's worth billions. It has had its market value validated at or above those levels for years now, from VC to public investors. It has maintained a large userbase for years as well.

Snap also has 30-40 times the revenue of Canva, which makes the point about how lucrative those hundreds of millions of users can be.


I think it's a little crazy how much it's valued.

These things come and go. I remember using Yahoo! Messenger...


Snapchat isn't a communication device, it's a communication service. Very easy for consumers to replace with the next fad that comes along, as it costs nothing up front and the opportunity cost to switch to a competitor is almost negligible.


The question is, what would a high quality online design program be worth to a company with a large user base to feed products into? i.e. what is this company worth as an acquisition to Microsoft/Goog etc


> After tax loss of 3.3 million while having a revenue of 23.5 million Australian Dollars

According to my friend who works there, they haven't really been trying to monetize yet so perhaps the investors think that when they try to monetize it will be easy to be profitable?

At least when comparing to FB, FB's path to monetization seemed more difficult in my opinion.


I used it to see what it was like and I cannot for the life of me see why it has a billion dollar valuation. Its like pixlr.com?


i hadn't seen pixlr before, it's beautiful. But canva has been making inroads in the enterprise space. Difficult to displace once all your digital assets are managed by a service for multiple designers. Then they provided a print service too.

They're executing really well in key areas.


I wish the day will come where we’ll stop callimg companies “Unicorns” that are “valued” at a billion dollar based on equity negotiations done by investors and founders and instead, call companies unicorns when they “profit” a billion dollars a year. That, my friend, is an achievement worth giving a mythical name.


A thing is worth what someone else will give you for it.

You're asking for the core mechanism of wealth creation in technology to be dispelled.

If enough people, over a credible amount of time, say that a company is increasing in value, and if they back each such assertion with a small percentage of that stated value, then eventually said company can be taken to the public who hopefully will agree and put up their money to validate the game.


> You're asking for the core mechanism of wealth creation in technology to be dispelled.

what is, or is not referred to as a "unicorn" is not a core mechanism of wealth creation.

all they said was "I wish ... call companies unicorns when they “profit” a billion dollars a year."

obviously the valuation mechanism can't change, but we could all agree to be less impressed by noisy valuations, and more impressed by realized profits.


If I invest X money at Y 'valuation', but I get more than just stock such as liquidation preferences, then the stock alone it's not actually worth X money. Or if you prefer my stock + what else I get is worth X money, but the other shareholders lost something of value.

Thus the company is not actually worth Y valuation and pretending otherwise ignores the terms of the deal.

EX: If the company is nominally worth 1 billion at the time of investment, and later sold for 900 million the last investor may actually have profited via money that early investors never received.


Most 409a valuations will value the common at around 1/3rd the price of the last preferred and of course you need to discount the preferred lower in the stack so it’s not as simple as #outstanding shares x $highest preferred unless you have a liquidity event where someone has set the price for the common shares.


> A thing is worth what someone else will give you for it.

You are correct, however, selling 0.00001% of my company to some schmuck for 100$ does not mean people are willing to give me 1 billion dollars for te rest of it. Many so called "unicorns" seem to be closer to that scenario than to actually having a market valuation of 1 billion dollars.


In the case of $1 billion in profits, we should call those companies Sumatran Rhinos or some other endangered species. While very rare, they are still real animals. In my opinion (not speaking of Canva in particular), equating a billion dollar startup with no profits and a questionable business model to a mythical creature which only children believe in is quite apropos.


craigslist is probably close to qualify in your definition


About $500 million profit, with ~$700 million revenue. Still kind of shy, but that profit is pretty astounding!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craigslist


If those numbers are correct and the number of employees is really only 50 as on Wikipedia it's time to be really impressed.


I find it very useful for one reason: the senationalism around it makes the companies far easier to track and learn about because they frequently pop up in the media thereafter. Typically you're going to get a lot more articles written about you at a $1b valuation than at $200m. There are hundreds upon hundreds of interesting technology companies around the world, most are difficult to learn about initially, or to find at all. The unicorn / billion dollar tag gets them plastered everywhere.


Profit (whether gross, operating, or net) is also an imperfect measure. For many extremely fast growing companies, being profitable is a bad thing; it's what happens when they run out of ways to re-invest revenue into growth.


Good point, I'll be happy to refer to a company as a unicorn if they do 1 billion in annual revenue and positive net profit.


Is Atlassian not considered Australian?

(Well, I guess it's public now.)


Atlassian is certainly an Australian company. HQ is Sydney, both co-founders are Australian, and probably more employees in that office than any other.


Atlassian is definitely Australian. But if we count them, there are a lot more Australian tech businesses worth more than US$1B: Acconex was just bought by Oracle for US$1.2B, and we have tech businesses from the last web boom like Seek.com (~US$5B), or going even further back, businesses like MYOB (~US$1.7B).


Pretty sure they moved years ago because of taxes. [1]

[1] http://www.afr.com/leadership/entrepreneur/atlassian-leads-c...


Just because your company is incorporated in Delaware does not mean its running the show there.


Sure, I was thinking that may have been why they were not considered an Australian unicorn in regards to the article in question.


They are UK-headquartered and list on the NASDAQ. Not sure what proportion of employees are Australian and spiritually I would still claim them as Australian. They would also have comfortably been a unicorn-level company before the UK restructure and the listing, with substantial profits.


Nope, Atlassian's HQ is Sydney. Definitely Australian-based.


Atlassian is legally domiciled in the UK, not Sydney. Their legal appears to mostly be HQ'd in San Francisco per all their legal documents.

I understand that doesn't mean they aren't primarily operating out of Sydney, although I don't know how one would say that definitely given the distribution (unless eg that's where all their core management operates?). How many employees do they have in Sydney? Where does the top management primarily operate from?


I'd rely on the fact that the company contact page lists "Sydney (HQ)" as the first office, followed by "San Francisco (HQ)" and then the non-HQ offices, as an assertion that they consider themselves to be an Australian-based company.

As for top management, I believe both their co-CEOs are Sydney-based, and Mike Cannon-Brookes is well known for his occasional forays into Australian politics and public affairs...


> How many employees do they have in Sydney?

Currently 1053 - by far our largest office. According to our people directory, we have no active employees in the UK.


> How many employees do they have in Sydney?

Based on sightings of dudebros wearing branded shwag in coffee shops and bars around here, I'd say quite a lot...


Saw a guy on the train the other day wearing Atlassian socks (with beige sandals).


I’m going to guess that the “privately backed” qualifier either disqualifies them because they’re now public, or because they reached the $1B valuation before they took VC money.

Similar story with most other AU companies that have reached that level, local IPO early or reach the valuation without institutional money. The latter also meaning valuation is pure external speculation.


My first thought as well.

Are they excluded for going public? Weren't they over a billion well before that?

Or did they not take outside money?


"Only Tech Unicorn" is questionable. In addition to this and Atlassian, there is also WisetechGlobal https://www.marketindex.com.au/asx/wtc - market cap $4Bn.


Well technically if it's listed on the ASX then it's gone public, i.e. Exited, so typically not called a unicorn.


Fair enough but relatively recently listed. I guess Australia is probably a serial unicorn maker.


Unicorn is a startup term. Atlassian is TEAM on the NASDAQ.


TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE), an enterprise software company focused on government/public sector, has a market cap of AU$1.56bn.


Somebody please correct me, because it sounds like they're saying a $40m investment got them to a $1b valuation, which would mean the investors (Sequoia, Blackbird and Felicis) got 4% between them? Why would they take such little equity?


In the article the cofounder says it was "an offer we couldn't refuse". I guess she meant in a "You'll give us _how_ much for less than 5%??? You're joking? No? DONE!" way, rather than a "Nice business you've got here, it'd be a pity if anything happened to it." or a "We know where your children go to school" kind of way...


If that's all correct, it's because it was what they could get for now. It'd likely be just to wet their beak, get an inside track, form a relationship, and they're looking to get more in future rounds. Sometimes companies that aren't desperate for outside funding will do a slower walk-up on partnerships with VCs, which I think can make a lot of sense if you have the luxury to do it.




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