Category Archives: MOVERS & SHAKERS

ANOTHER AUSSIE UNICORN: Design newbie Canva now valued at above $US1 billion in its latest capital raising

 

Melanie Perkins, co-founder of Canva. Photo: Supplied.

Online design and publishing platform Canva has become the first Australian start-up since Atlassian to join the elite ranks of Silicon Valley unicorns with a valuation in excess of $US1 billion ($1.28 billion).

The valuation is based on a $US40 million series A funding round. It is the sixth funding round since the company was founded 4½ years ago by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams.

The latest funding won the support of one of Silicon Valley’s top five venture capitalists, Sequoia Capital, which was an early investor in Apple, Google, WhatsApp, Cisco, Oracle, Yahoo and LinkedIn.

Canva chief executive Ms Perkins said the money raised from existing and new shareholders would be used to expand the company’s range of online design and publishing products.

“We are in 190 countries, in 100 languages and we have done about 1 per cent of what is possible,” she told The Australian Financial Review in an interview at the company’s Sydney head office in inner-city Surry Hills.

“I know we have a $US1 billion valuation but we like to say we are a baby unicorn,” Ms Perkins said. “There is a lot more to do before we are grown up.”

When asked about her ambition for Canva, Ms Perkins did not hesitate before saying: “I think we can make Canva the most valuable tech company in the world.”

To achieve that ambition Canva will have to expand its market value about 900 times to beat the $US890 billion valuation of Apple, the world’s largest company.

That goal sounds outrageous considering Canva lost $3.3 million in the year to June 2017.

But Rick Baker, a partner of Canva shareholder Blackbird Ventures, said Canva is possibly one of the fastest-growing software companies of all time measured in terms of percentage growth in recurring revenue.

The company earns revenue from a subscription model.

“Canva is making huge strides in democratising design for everyone,” he said. “Its product growth and adoption across many demographics is truly exceptional.”

Mr Baker first met Ms Perkins and Mr Obrecht in 2010 before they had launched Canva.

“I convinced them to delay their first seed funding round until after Blackbird Ventures was established,” he said.

“Our first investment as a venture capital firm was the $250,000 we invested in Canva.”

Breaking silos

Lots of smart money has supported the Canva business, including Australian entrepreneurs Paul Bassat from SEEK and Daniel Petre from AirTree Ventures.

The company has attracted heaps of attention in Silicon Valley USA.

Early investors were Google Maps founder Lars Rasmussen, legendary venture capitalist Bill Tai, former Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman and Hollywood actors Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson.

A number of Silicon Valley venture capital firms apart from Sequoia have backed Canva including Felicis Ventures, Vayner Capital, Matrix Partners and Shasta Ventures.

Ms Perkins admitted that Canva’s two major competitors were design software companies Adobe and Microsoft.

But she said Canva was built on breaking down the silos and complexity that are part and parcel of using the products sold by Adobe and Microsoft.

“The world is rapidly becoming more visual, yet traditional design tools in the market are too complicated to use, or so costly that they become inaccessible,” Ms Perkins said.

“Canva is designed to enable individual and teams to collaborate seamlessly, and our growing footprint is evidence of the widespread need that we are addressing.

“This extra financing will bring us that much closer to giving everyone the ability to thrive in an increasingly visual environment.”

Canva’s growth rates in terms of customer usage of its platform have been staggering.

After eight months of existence about 350,000 designs were being created each month. After 20 months of existence about 3 million designs were created each month.

Today, after 52 months in operation, Canva’s platform is handling about 34 million designs a month.

The idea for Canva had its roots in the lounge room of Ms Perkins’s family home in the northern Perth suburb of Duncraig. She and Mr Obrecht started a printing company called Fusion Books, which printed school yearbooks.

Cameron Adams, a former Google engineer, joined the company as a co-founder before its first round of seed funding in 2013.

Since then the company has raised $US81 million.

Atlassian became a unicorn well before it listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange with a valuation of $US6 billion in 2015. Its market valuation is now $US11.9 billion.

This post appeared at the AFR.com. See the original here.

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Henry Sapiecha

Palmer notches $200m court win against Chinese state-owned enterprise Citic Pacific

Clive Palmer has described his victory in the long-running royalties battle in the Pilbara against Chinese state-owned enterprise Citic Pacific as a “win for all Australians”.

Palmer was awarded around $200 million in damages and a further $200 million to be paid annually for the next 30 years by the Western Australian Supreme Court last week in the dispute over royalty payments.

The dispute stems back to dealings between the two parties in 2006. Citic had paid Palmer $US415 million as part of takeover agreement, which included two separate royalties, for the Sino Iron project.

However, Citic refused to pay the second royalty, causing Minerlogy to make the claim in court.

WA Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Martin ruled that Citic’s wholly-owned subsidiaries Sino Iron and Korean Steel pay Palmer’s Mineralogy the damages.

“This is a win for Australian law over Chinese Communist Government powerhouses who have wasted precious court time, resources and energy,” Palmer said.

“Many Australian companies have lost these battles because they haven’t been able to afford to fight them.

“For too long they have used their power to try and crush Australian enterprise and thankfully today justice has been served.”

Another hearing will take place this week to address remaining issues in the dispute.

Henry Sapiecha

Billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes confesses to having impostor syndrome

The man in the baseball cap and hoodie may be Australia’s 17th richest individual but is scared of being found out as an impostor.

As a keynote speaker at TEDxSydney, Mike Cannon-Brookes  confessed he suffered from impostor syndrome and most days felt like he did not know what he was doing.

“Have you ever felt out of your depth, like a fraud, and just kind of guessed-slash-bullshitted your way through the situation, petrified that at any time someone was going to call you on it?” he said on Friday.

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“It’s not a fear of failure. It’s not a fear of being unable to do it. It’s more a sensation of  getting away with something, a fear of being discovered, that at any time someone is going to figure it out.

“And if they did figure it out, you’d say to yourself, ‘well, that’s fair enough actually’.”

Mr Cannon-Brookes said when he and his partner, Scott Farquhar started their IT company their main aim was not to wear a suit to work but success brought complications.

Hiring their first HR manager, he did not know what questions to ask and later, attending board meetings in a T-shirt, he found himself  “surrounded by suits, acronyms flying around and feeling like a five-year-old as I write them down secretly in my notebook so that I can look them up on Wikipedia when I get home later”.

“For me impostor syndrome is a feeling of being well out of your depth. Internally you know you’re not experienced enough or qualified enough to justify being there. Yet you are there. And you have to figure a way out because you can’t just get out.”

The Australian Financial Review‘s 2017 Rich List named Mr Cannon-Brookes, 37 and a Sydneysider, as the nation’s 17th most wealthy individual with a personal fortune of $2.51 billion. He co-founded Atlassian , a collaboration software company that helps teams organise, discuss and complete shared work. More than 68,000 organisations – including eBay, Twitter, Coca-Cola, Visa, BMW and NASA – use Atlassian’s products.

Mr Cannon-Brookes joked he had met his wife posing as an impostor.

A weekly commuter to San Francisco some years back, he was in the Qantas lounge when she approached mistaking him for somebody else. He did not disabuse her of her initial impression.

“Classic Aussie bullshit became some sort of forward movement and a phone number … a decade later she is my wife and we have four children,” he said.

Mr Cannon-Brookes thought most successful people “felt like frauds” but the key was to realise they were out of their depth and harness self-doubt as a force for good.

Recently, when South Australia had a power crisis he saw something on Twitter that Tesla thought it could solve the situation so he fired off some tweets only to see the media descend on him as “some sort of expert in energy”.

At the time, he said, he did not know the difference between a AA battery and 100 megawatt battery.

“A chronic case of  impostor syndrome … I remember thinking, ‘I’ve kind of started something here I can’t really get out. If I abandon the situation, I could set back renewables in Australia and maybe look like a complete idiot on Twitter’. All I could do was to not freeze and try to learn,” he said.

He ended up brokering talks between Tesla boss Elon Musk, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and PM Malcolm Turnbull on the nation’s energy shortages.

Henry Sapiecha

 

AUSTRALIAN MILLION DOLLAR GOLD COIN HAS BEEN RELEASED

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Premier Colin Barnett today unveiled the world’s first coin to feature a significant red diamond from Rio Tinto’s Argyle pink diamond mine.

The exclusive $1 million Kimberley Treasure coin was struck by The Perth Mint from one kilogram of 99.99 per cent pure gold, and features an image of a red kangaroo holding a radiant 0.54 carat red gemstone between its front paws. >>>>>>MORE HERE

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Henry Sapiecha