Canva creates an extra 40 million users as it unveils new AI products – and a baby


The Canva juggernaut continues to accelerate with the company revealing its monthly users jumped almost 50% to 125 million since the launch of its Visual Suite in September 2022.
Canva founders Cameron Adams in red, Melanie Perkins in white and Cliff Obrecht in blue. | Images: Forbes Australia

The Perth-founded Canva, which describes itself as “the world’s only all-in-one visual communication platform,” appears to have avoided the mass layoffs that have afflicted other parts of the tech industry, such as the purge of 1300 staff from Atlassian and Xero earlier this month.

In launching the new products, co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins was asked by The Australian newspaper how she was finding motherhood. She had, until then, kept it a secret.

“It’s been fun,” she answered. She reportedly gave birth last year, but no more is known about the child.

With Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar in the audience, Perkins launched the new products at the Canva Create conference in Sydney. These included new brand-management features and AI-powered design tools.

Canva’s new AI-powered Magic Translate product.

“Ten years ago, we launched Canva driven by a vision to empower everyone to design anything, no matter their skills or experience,” Perkins said. “Today, we’re thrilled to advance that vision by introducing a whole new range of features, focused on empowering brands to scale their creative outputs. As technology continues to advance, we are reimagining the design process by making it even easier to take what is in your head, get it onto a page, and out into the world, faster than ever before.”

The tightly scripted and exuberantly performed launch was expected to be watched by more than a million people worldwide. With the live audience of 3000 encouraged to dress brightly, the 10-year-old company announced the artificial intelligence features under the ‘Magic’ name, including Magic Design, allowing users to create personalised design templates from an image or style, Magic Presentation, to create slideshow-style presentations from a prompt, and Magic Write, a copywriting tool. The AI can write in 21 languages from Tagalog (Filippino) to Limba Romana (Romanian) – and translate into 100.

Spot the five billionaires at the Canva Create event in Sydney

Canva, which launched in 2013 with a “freemium” business model, claims annual revenues of more than $1.4 billion.

 Husband and wife co-founders Cliff Obrecht and Perkins were together ranked at number eight on Forbes’ Australia’s Richest 50 List – valued at $10.75 billion. The third co-founder Cameron Adams – Canva’s chief product officer – was ranked at number 29 with $2.7 billion.

Canva has been working on AI tools since it acquired Austrian startup Kaleido AI in 2020. Its AI announcements yesterday coincide with a rush of recent AI products led by ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion.

Canva built its “Magic” tools with an in-house AI team using foundational models from OpenAI and Stable Diffusion and also trained its own, Perkins said on Wednesday.

 Describing, the event for the American audience, Forbes US reported that, “Canva gradually grew from overlooked Australian upstart to a global phenom, with Perkins appearing on the cover of Forbes in December 2019“.

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins in a jacket designed by the 15-billionth customer’s mum, and her husband in a pair of $50 shoes.

“After raising funding at a lofty US$40-billion valuation in September 2021 (Perkins and Obrecht pledged to give the “vast majority” of their personal wealth to Canva’s foundation), the company’s valuation was later cut to about US$25 billion by some investors in the tech market’s pullback.

“Since its peak valuation was announced, the company has more than doubled monthly users, it said; after taking five years to reach 10 million users, it added the same total in the past 30 days.”

The jacket which Perkins wore yesterday was designed by the mother of Canva’s 15 billionth user (ie, the creator of the 15-billionth design created in Canva), a woman from Brazil who had been flown to the Sydney event. Obrecht meanwhile was wearing shoes that cost him $50, he told Forbes, “and were bloody uncomfortable”.


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