Canva’s Cliff Obrecht lost billions last week. But it’s all just ‘noise’ to him

Canva’s Cliff Obrecht lost billions last week. But it’s all just ‘noise’ to him

In an email to staff seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Canva told staff it has $US700 million in the bank, is still hiring and unlike the vast majority of its tech start-up peers, is profitable.

Loading

“We had planned to dip out of profitability this year to invest in further accelerating growth,” Perkins wrote in the email. “However, we changed course as soon as we noticed the macroeconomic environment changing and are now back to being profitable again this year, for the sixth year in a row.”

Canva is pivotal to the success of Australia’s start-up sector. At $US40 billion, the company was valued about 8 times larger than the country’s next largest start-up, payments firm Airwallex.

Canva’s surging valuation has helped its biggest backers — Blackbird Ventures, AirTree Ventures and Square Peg Capital — cement their status as the country’s pre-eminent venture funds.

Technology stocks have been hammered this year due to concerns about inflation and global growth. Loss-making companies that have pursued growth before profits, and that depend external funding to sustain their operations, have been hit the hardest in the downturn.

But Obrecht said Canva has been profitable for the last five years and does not need to raise any more funding. He said a public listing of Canva shares was still on the “distant horizon”.

“We love being a private company, which is why the sort of external noise around valuations is just annoying,” he said.

Canva is taking in more than $US1 billion in revenue a year, Obrecht said. Industry sources familiar with the company, who were not authorised to speak on record, said its revenue was growing at about 70 per cent annually.

Obrecht would not confirm the exact figure, but said Canva had more than 10 million paying subscribers and was seeing particular growth from its Teams product, which is aimed at business customers. The company is still hiring but has scaled back marketing expenditure.

Loading

One of the few areas where a declining valuation for a privately held tech business has an immediate impact is for staff who were given granted share rights at a very high valuation, meaning they received fewer. Obrecht, who is also the company’s chief operating officer, said Canva was looking at topping up those workers.

“It’s something we’re considering because we value our employees more than anything else in the world and want to ensure that they feel valued and everything’s all aligned there,” he said.

The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.