Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Australian graphic design company Canva, says the business is in a “uniquely strong position” as it expands into Europe.

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LONDON — Australian graphic design company Canva believes it is in a “uniquely strong position” to weather industry headwinds as it embarks on its European expansion.

The Sydney-based software company opened its new European headquarters in London last month as it competes with tech heavyweights. Adobe And Microsoft To attract individual and institutional users to its design suite.

It comes as rising borrowing costs and a declining economic outlook prompted technology companies to cut jobs over the past year. But co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins said the nine-year-old company is well positioned amid broader pressures.

“Being profitable for the last six years, having a solid cash balance, all of those things were very important,” Perkins told CNBC.

Canva, which offers both free and paid tools for designing websites, presentations and social content, generated $1.5 billion in annual revenue in the year ending in May. The company said it had $700 million in cash reserves.

Of the 135 million global users, 16% are located in Europe. Overall, about 15% of paid subscribers, of which 14 million are individuals and 6 million are companies such as wppUnilever and Rolls-Royce. It is now targeting growth in both areas.

“We’ve made our paid products so affordable that no matter what’s going on in the macro environment, people are moving to Canva rather than away from it,” Perkins said of the service.

“We’ve certainly seen that happen and recur over the last couple of years as this economic uncertainty started,” she added.

Betting on “magic” artificial intelligence

canva, However, the 2023 CNBC turmoil wasn’t immune from industry setbacks.

Despite reaching a peak valuation of $40 billion in 2021, the private company has since welcomed investors. cut their ratings Amidst the gloomy look. It is also narrow Avoid embedding In the collapse of the Silicon Valley bank that funded startups in March.

Meanwhile, increased scrutiny around AI coincided with the company’s rollout of a new set of AI-powered editing, publishing, and design features, which attracted 10 million new users within a month. Amidst the hype surrounding the burgeoning technology, I preferred it to be euphemistically called “magic.”

“This term ‘magic’ is what we’ve referred to things as for nearly a decade, and so this branding was something we did,” Perkins said.

Canva’s new suite of AI-powered editing tools includes Magic Edit, which allows images to be replaced with AI-generated alternatives.


Tech experts are increasingly sounding alarm bells about the threats artificial intelligence poses to society, with Tesla CEO Elon Much and Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT, among those who have voiced concerns.

Canva has partnered with OpenAI for its Magic Write tool, which automatically generates full scripts for presentations and blog posts based on prompts of a few words. But Perkins said the company is proceeding with caution, “over-indexing toward trust and security.”

“There’s a lot of jargon that you can’t do in Magic Write. There’s no medical, there’s no political, there’s a lot of categories that we’ve already said are risky at this point in time. We’re erring on the side of caution because this industry is in its infancy.”

Developed creative industry

The creative industry is among those believed to be at risk of being disrupted by upcoming technological developments, with some platforms already capable of producing images and content previously produced by designers.

Still, Perkins said the purpose of the tools is to streamline and simplify design processes, which she believes will supercharge what people can do.

“Every industry is going through radical transformations. Certainly, our industry hasn’t been far from that,” Perkins said. “As new technology becomes available, the whole industry has to adapt and everyone has to learn new skills. I think this has happened over and over again.”

She founded a billion dollar startup by 30. Now she deals with tech giants

“When we launched Canva, people were like ‘Oh, is this going to be the end of graphic design’ and it certainly wasn’t. I think we’ve seen prolific penetration and much more demand for graphic design and visual communication across all organizations,” she added.

With work approaching 10th anniversary in August We hope that continued adoption will further their ambitions to muster 1 billion users and become one of the most valuable companies in the world.

When asked if this user goal could happen within the next decade, Perkins said she was optimistic. However, on the prospect of a potential IPO, it was less forthcoming. “There is nothing to talk about at this point,” she said.


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