Australian startup Canva achieves 'unicorn' status

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New South Wales CBD
People walk through the Central Business District on the first day of Autumn in Sydney March 1, 2004. Reuters/David Gray

Australian startup Canva from Sydney has become the country’s newest tech "unicorn.” It secured the reputation after closing a funding round valuing its operations at $1.3 billion.

Canva announced on Tuesday it has raised millions from investors. These include the Chinese arm of Silicon Valley investment firm Sequoia Capital as well as current shareholders Felicis Ventures and Blackbird Ventures.

Co-founder Melanie Perkins has revealed the funding to the ABC. "Very recently we just closed a round [of funding], making Canva now a unicorn-which is crazy considering how much we struggled to get things off the ground,” she said.

Although the startup did not need the money as it was profitable, Perkins said the offer was too good to decline. She added that the company intends to double its workforce of 250 staff over the next year.

"We can grow our team as rapidly as we can and know that we've got the financial backing to make those decisions very easily,” Brisbane Times reports Perkins as saying. The startup offers apps that help companies and advertisers come up with logos, banners and presentations.

According to Perkins, Canva is an online design platform that people with no graphic design experience use to create their own designs. It is useful for pitch decks, marketing materials, presentations and even social media graphics. She added that the platform is being used in 190 countries and in 100 languages; it is also used by some Fortune 500 companies.

When asked how she could confirm the company’s new valuation, Perkins said the investors determine the price of the company that they believe that is exactly how venture capital works. Canva currently has no plans to list on the stock market.

Blackbird's co-founder Rick Baker was also asked about Canva's new valuation. He reportedly can confirm that the Canva round was at a US$1 billion (AU$1.3 billion) valuation, adding it is a huge milestone for the company.

Canva's latest round of funding is a rare startup success for Australia's technology scene. Just eight of its listed technology companies are worth over $1.3 billion. That figure is comparable to 18 companies in metals and mining alone, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.

Another unicorn success-story in Australia is that of software company Atlassian, which listed on the Nasdaq in 2015. Airbnb, Spotify, Dropbox and Uber are among the most famous and valuable unicorns in the world.

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