Canva CFO departs suddenly

- February 14, 2024 2 MIN READ
Canva cofounders Cameron Adams, Cliff Obrecht and Melanie Perkins.
Canva’s long-term chief financial officer, Damien Singh, has left the company after nearly 8 years, with the graphic design giant yet to name a replacement.

His departure appeared to catch many by surprise last week when he broke the news to members of the Canva team on Monday, February 5.

“As we move towards the vision of Finance 2.0, I’ve been working closely with the Finance Leads over the past few months as we explore what’s needed for the next phase of our journey as a company. As part of this, I also wanted to share that today marks my last day at Canva,” Singh wrote in a staff email 10 days ago.

“We’re now at a pivotal point going into our next decade where we now need to build on our foundations to operate as a truly public ready company.”

News of his departure did not emerge until today, with Smart Company and US tech news site The Information reporting Singh’s surprise move.

He told the team that the search was underway for a CFO “with deep public company experience at a global scale for our next chapter of growth”.

He joined the team in June 2016 and last year was named CEO Magazine’s enterprise CFO of the year.

Singh praised his finance colleagues at Canva in his departure message, saying they’d demonstrated their capability under US-based chief legal officer, Todd Carpenter, while the CFO took leave last year.

But on Wednesday evening, following the publication of this story, Capital Brief’s Bronwen Clune reported that Singh resigned amid “an internal investigation into allegations made against him”.

Startup Daily understands that discussions were already underway about leadership transitions within the business ahead of a public listing. There is no suggestion by Startup Daily that the allegations were true. They are believed to have been made anonymously outside the company.

A Canva spokesperson told Startup Daily that: “Creating a safe environment for everyone is our number one priority.”

The company, last valued at A$39 billion, is reportedly gearing up for a public listing as soon as next year.

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.

A decade on, there have been some liquidity moments for investors, with Blackbird selling a $150 million stake last year. Last month it emerged that staff and other early-stage investors looking to offload around US$1 billion (A$1.49bn) worth of shares in a secondary market sale.

Canva’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) has been one of the company’s secret weapons when it comes to recruiting the best people, although its details are a closely guarded secret and “Canvanauts”, the company’s term for its staff, sign a non-disclosure agreement when joining the company.