Two Australian friends could never have anticipated that a concept they discussed in their living room as 19-year-old university students would propel them to multibillionaire status only 15 years later.
Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, now 34 and 35 years old, were university sweethearts when this happened on Wednesday.
Ms Perkins was a student at a Perth university who supplemented her income by teaching other students design programs.
She noticed that her students are working hard to learn complex graphic design systems like Photoshop, and think there must be a better way. Ms. Perkins developed Canva, an easy-to-use graphic design program that has 60 million customers at the time of writing. Her partner at the time, married her earlier this year, and Cliff Obrecht became the co-founder. Tasmanian software designer Cameron Adams also joined, he is Canva’s third co-founder. On Wednesday, Canva’s valuation reached a staggering 40 billion U.S. dollars (54.5 billion Australian dollars).
The valuation of A$54.5 billion is impressive, especially when you consider that Canva has more than doubled its value since it was valued at A$19 billion in April. After a round of financing of US$200 million, the number of 4,444 Canva has increased dramatically. Investment companies T. Rowe Price, Franklin Templeton, Sequoia Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Greenoaks Capital, Dragoneer, Felicis Ventures, and Australian venture capital companies Blackbird Ventures and AirTree Ventures are behind the fundraising. Ms. Perkins said that the fundraising was evidence that her investors “voted a vote of confidence.” At the time of the cash injection, Canva had 60 million monthly active users across 190 countries, with over 2000 employees.
Mr. Adams is estimated to own 6 billion Australian dollars in Canva, while Perkins and Obrecht own 30% of Canva, making the total value more than 16 billion Australian dollars.
Ms. Perkins announced the news in a blog post, but at a turning point, she planned to donate most of her wealth to charity.
Ms. Perkins and her husband announced that they would donate “most” of their $16 billion to charity. “It feels weird when people call us’billionaires’ because it has never been our money. “As we have shared before, we have been planning to give away wealth for a long time, and we have been thinking about how It is best to start this journey.
“We are happy to announce that Cliff and I will use our majority stake (30% of Canva) to do good for the world and plan to do so through the Canva Foundation.” This money is for charity pilot charities GiveDirectly. The program donated US$10 million to troubled countries in Southern Africa.
Before the announcement, the technology company was donating money to charities. They are part of the “1% mortgage” and they provide 1% equity, profit, time and products to those in need.