What Is Canva?

Posted on 3/26/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

When the question of market leaders in the stock photo industry comes up the names photographers usually think about are Getty Images, Shutterstock, AdobeStock, iStock and Alamy. Maybe they should be thinking about the Australian company Canva.

The users and buyers of photographs are people who design products that needs visuals. Canva has been built to provide a host of services designers need to do their jobs. They not only provides users with photos, illustrations, graphic elements and fonts, but also with education and training. They give those with little or no design experience the understanding and tools they need to produce professional looking finished products.

Canva’s more than 20 million monthly customers produce 36 designs every second. The majority of these customers have little design experience and are looking for easy-to-use templates that will help them build flyers, social media cards and other design elements on an occasional basis. Like so many Internet users they are also looking for cheap or free information. However, as the company has developed, its resources are being used, increasingly, by experienced graphic designers and design professionals as well.

In October 2019 the company announced that it had raised $85 million in new funding from existing investors including Bond, General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Blackbird and Sequoia China and it was valued at US$3.2 billion ($5.23 billion Australian). Recently, it was reported by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission that the company had 2018 revenue of $86.3 million, a 118 per cent increase on the previous year. It is expected that the company will do an initial public offering (IPO) soon.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald a Canva spokesperson stated in October last year that the company was on track to generate $291 million (US $172.4 million) in annualized revenue.

By way of comparison Shutterstock with about 2 million customers, was valued at $2.27 billion in September 2016 and is valued at $1.32 billion as of March 23, 2020. Of course, Canva’s revenue stream is not solely dependent on the licensing of photos. The company offers much more than just photos and illustrations.

In 2008 when Founder and CEO Melanie Perkins was a 19-year-old she dreamt of transforming the graphic design and publishing industries. At that time, she was a university student studying graphic design in Perth, Australia. She was being taught to use Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Publisher and frustrated by the amount of time it took to work through the very complex instruction manuals and go through all the steps required to accomplish the most basic design tasks. Students could spend a whole year learning how to create templates.

She decided that in the Internet age there should be an easier way for anyone, with little or no design experience, to create flyers, resumes, brochures, presentations, business cards, T-shirts, invitations, books, etc., and to quickly and easily find and integrate the resources they needed into their own designs.

But, where to start with this grand vision? Her mother was a teacher who had the additional responsibility of designing the yearbook for her school. Melanie saw the difficulties and challenges her mother faced and decided there was a huge need for better resources by those charged with producing yearbooks.

To fill this need she started Fusion Books which was an immediate success in Australia. The site offered yearbook editors templates they could use and basic, simplified training and encouragement.

However, Melanie’s vision was always to expand this resource beyond yearbooks to every type of visual product. In 2013, Canva was launched with a staff or 15. By 2019 they had 700 employees and they expect to double that number in 2020. For more about how the business developed readers may want to listen to a National Public Radio (NPR) interview of Melanie Perkins.

Her vision has (always been to make the basic resources available for FREE and charge a small monthly subscription for access to certain other features. (See pricing section). Currently, in addition to the 4 million free images there are over 50 million Premium Images available for $10 per download.

AirTree Ventures partner Craig Blair, one of those who has backed Canva in multiple funding rounds, said that while "times are very uncertain" (due to coronavirus fears) Canva remains well positioned. When it comes to an IPO frankly Canva is in charge of its own destiny, it can do whatever it wants there," he said. "The fundamentals of the business are strong and it's in a stronger position than the incumbents."

Co-founder and chief executive Melanie Perkins told the Morning Herald that Canva continues to generate positive cash flows from operations but declined to comment on whether market turbulence stemming from coronavirus would affect the timing of any IPO.

Recently, Canva has made its Pro service available to Australian public health organizations for free in an effort to help spread accurate information about COVID-19. Melanie said, “while cases may seem currently low in Australia, we need to encourage urgent action in order to slow the spread here. There is still a lot more we can be doing to support organizations to do more, and are calling on business and civic leaders to do their part here, in particular, we are concerned about the impact our schools staying open are having on the viruses spread."

Copyright © 2020 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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