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Startups

Australian unicorn Canva seeks further global expansion

Graphic design software provider opens office in US and considers M&A

CEO Melanie Perkins released software application Canva in 2013. (Photos courtesy of Canva)

SYDNEY -- Australian design software company Canva has been expanding its business and is now seeking opportunities for acquisitions with a cash pile that has increased sharply of late.

Sydney-based Canva is one of Australia's rare unicorns -- privately held startups valued at more than $1 billion. Its value reached $6 billion after a $60 million funding round ended around June this year.

It operates a graphic design software application that enable users to create professional-quality posters and business cards using a personal computer, smartphone or tablet. The company's eponymous software has some 35 million users in about 190 countries and regions, in a rapid expansion from 15 million users in May 2019.

Users can choose from 8,000 free templates divided into such categories as "invitation," "curriculum vitae" and "Instagram post", and from 100,000 paid templates starting from a monthly fee of $9.95.

Text or photos can be inserted into the templates and layouts fine-tuned, with no design expertise necessary.

The service was inspired by Canva CEO Melanie Perkins' experience when she was a 19-year-old university student. Spotting a business opportunity when she had to use a non-user-friendly design tool in a class, she started a service from the living room of her mother's home that allowed users to produce school yearbooks online. She released Canva in 2013.

Demand has been booming during coronavirus lockdowns, with Canva's software enabling people to share designs online and work together, remotely.

Given the now widespread practice of working from home, corporate users of highly productive design platforms such as Canva are increasing, said Cliff Obrecht, chief operating officer of the company.

At a time when more and more companies are trying to cut costs, users of Canva, which is an inexpensive and high-quality design tool, are increasing at an exponential rate, according to the company.

Canva's key market is the U.S., where it has opened an office in Austin, Texas.

It is also keen to acquire businesses for further expansion. "We'll continue to monitor and evaluate acquisition opportunities," Obrecht said.

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