Canva raises $US15m from VC funds

07/10/2015 - 01:44

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Perth-founded online design company Canva has raised $US15 million ($20.8 million) from venture capital investors and Hollywood stars in a deal that values the business at $US165 million.

Canva founders Cliff Obrecht (left), Melanie Perkins and Cameron Adams. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Perth-founded online design company Canva has raised $US15 million ($20.8 million) from venture capital investors and Hollywood stars in a deal that values the business at $US165 million.  

The ‘series A’ investment was led by US-based Felicis Ventures alongside existing investors Blackbird Ventures from Australia and Matrix Partners from the US.

Hollywood stars Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson also participated.

“Our new funding will help us to expand and build what we believe is the future of design and creation,” chief executive and co-founder Melanie Perkins said in a statement released overnight.

The new funding comes only five months after Canva raised $US6 million from venture capital investors.

Sydney-based Canva says it has grown to over 5 million users since launching its online collaborative design platform in July 2012.

The company’s paid product, Canva for Work, was launched in August this year.

The business had its origins eight years ago when Ms Perkins was teaching graphic design programs at university in Perth and saw students struggle to learn and use them.

She and partner, Cliff Obrecht, initially launched Fusion Books, an online design tool for students and teachers creating their own yearbooks.

That business still trades under the name Fusion Yearbooks and has expanded beyond Australia.

The pair later joined up with Cameron Adams and raised $3 million in seed funding from investors, including Bill Tai, to establish Canva.

“We wanted to bring together all of the high-quality professional design ‘ingredients’ (stock photography, fonts, layouts, illustrations) and make them accessible to the whole world so everyone could communicate their ideas,” Ms Perkins said.

“Where products were complex to learn, we wanted to make ours easy. Where other products were intimidating, we wanted ours to be fun. Where products took years to learn, we wanted ours to take seconds.”

Felicis Ventures managing director Wesley Chan said when he and his partners first saw Canva, they knew it would disrupt the graphics and photo design market.

“The fact this is the largest ever cheque our fund has written demonstrates how much we believe in their vision,” he said.

 

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