New Sequoia China investment values Australian design company Canva at $1 billion

Canva, the Australian suppliers of graphic design software as a service, has become the world’s latest unicorn with a new investment led by Sequoia China.

A $ 40 million dollar round dedicates the company its eye-popping new valuation, following a year of tremendous growth in 2017, where Canva reached profitability and notched 294,000 paying customers for its design software-as-a-service offering.

Previous investors Blackbird Ventures and Felicis Ventures also participated in the funding.

“Our goal is to help people design anything and publish anywhere, ” says Canva chief executive Melanie Perkins. While Perkins’ stated goal of get all 3.2 billion internet users on Canva’s graphic design as a service platform seems a bit far-fetched, there’s nothing incorrect with the goal of democratizing design software.

Perkins says that Canva considers itself as providing graphic design tools for folks who aren’t graphic designers. Adobe, the ogre in the design marketplace, has a suite of incredibly powerful, but incredibly difficult to master, software tools, says Perkins, and Canva is hoping to simplify the process of creating visual assets for folks who can’t dedicate “peoples lives” to learning the ins and outs of Adobe’s software.

It’s not only InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator that Canva’s services are looking to topple, but the hegemony of Microsoft’s office suite, as well, Perkins says. And her company’s first target is PowerPoint.

Perkins says that the company, which has raised $39 million to date and hasn’t touched a cent from at the least its previous two rounds of funding, will begin spending some of its war chest on new product development.

And the first product the company wants to improve is its presentation toolkits. Canva already has a presentation creation suite that people have used to stimulate 30 million presentations, Perkins says. But there’s room to grow in that market.

“PowerPoint has such a stranglehold on the market, but it was designed before the web, ” Perkins says, arguing that Canva is the updated toolkit that folks should use for their next big meeting or TED talk.

“We’ve seen this huge trend for visual content … We’re find a transition from people making things that have been text-heavy are needing to create more visual-heavy content, ” says Perkins. “We’re taking the power of these Adobe products and putting them in the hands of people who have previously been using Microsoft products.”

In all, some 10 million people from 190 countries are use Canva’s tools in 100 different languages to create and distribute designs, according to the company.

Canva stimulates fund from its services in a few different ways. Teams pay $12.95 per month or a reduced $9.95 per month for a one-time annual subscription for the ability to save designs to different folders, automatically resize their designs to share on social media and to run and share designs with larger groups.

The company also has a design marketplace where designers, illustrators and photographers can share images that Canva users can pay$ 1 to use in their own run. It takes some of the hassle out of licensing images or designs through other sites.

Undoubtably, design is a huge market — and Adobe’s $91.2 billion valuation demonstrates it. If Canva can manage to hive off even 10 percentage of Adobe’s value, the Sequoia China valuation will look incredibly prescient.

But Canva isn’t the only company gunning for a share of Adobe’s market. InVision has launched a challenger to Adobe’s suite of design products through a clutch of services that look to compete with Photoshop, and a host of other startups are waiting in the wings, like Figma,SketchDeckand Sketch.

Still, the funding, and valuation, is a huge win for Canva and for the Australian ecosystem that the company supports and embraces.

It’s another data point indicating that the startup community that’s been developing down under is real and doing some truly spectacular things on a global scale.

“Showing that it is possible to create a globally competitive company from Australia is awesome, ” says Perkins. “It is helping to pave the road of what’s possible” for other startups, she says.

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