Canva’s early investors are getting closer to a $1.5 billion payday

- January 10, 2024 2 MIN READ
Canva cofounders Cliff Obrecht, Cameron Adams and Melanie Perkins.
Canva cofounders Cliff Obrecht, Cameron Adams and Melanie Perkins. Photo: supplied
Staff at Canva, along with early-stage investors such as Australia’s leading VCs, are close to hitting the jackpot for their initial belief in the global design platform, with around US$1 billion (A$1.49bn) in privately owned shares set to change in the coming weeks as a secondary market sale.

US tech site The Information published news of the sale quoting “people familiar with the matter”. The company declined to comment.

The sale is believed to maintain Canva’s existing valuation of US$25.5 billion (A$38bn), set in August 2022 when three of its key Australian investors, Blackbird, Square Peg Capital and Airtree, all agreed to cut the privately held software company’s valuation by 36% from US$40bn following a US$200m raise in 2021.

Last August, as its first fund approached the end of its decade-long life, Blackbird sold a $150 million stake in Canva – 3% of its total holding – at the same valuation to New York’s Coatue Management and San Francisco’s ICONIQ Capital. Founded in 2012, the same year as Canva, the VC has backed the tech scaleup across eight rounds, starting with A$250,000 at the Seed stage, and is likely to sell down again in this new secondary sale, which will also gives employees who received shares as part of the company’s ESOP the chance to cash in as Canva adds new investors to its cap table without raising further funds.

Canva has been profitable since 2017, with cofounder Cliff Orbrecht telling The Australian last year that the business is “certainly at the scale where we could IPO” and now has US investors with experience of seeing company through to a public float. A 2025 IPO is being touted, but where remains subject to speculation.

The Nasdaq has been flirting with Canva, last year using its digital billboard in New York’s Times Square to congratulate the firm after it was named as the best workplace for innovation by Fast Company.

The Information said the US$1bn transaction “would make it one of the largest in a string of deals by high-profile private tech firms lately, including artificial intelligence startup OpenAI and cloud-server provider CoreWeave, as well as Elon Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX”.  Goldman Sachs is managing the sale for Canva’s shareholders.

The business has now now raised more than $770 million across 14 rounds of funding. One of Canva’s earliest local investors was Skip Capital, the family VC firm led by Kim Jackson, with her husband Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.

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