When they were at university 15 years ago, two Aussie friends never could have imagined that something they talked about in their living room while at university would end up making them both billionaires. But that’s what’s happened because this week, Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, now aged 34 and 35 respectively, were told the company they founded – Canva – is now worth $54.5 billion ($US40 billion).
It all started when Perkins was studying at a Perth university and in her spare time, she was teaching students design programs to earn extra cash. She noticed her students were struggling to learn complex graphic design systems like Photoshop and she thought there had to be a better way.
Perkins worked on her ideas and went on to create Canva, an easy-to-use graphics design program which has at least 60 million customers now.
When she was at uni, Perkins’ partner was Cliff Obrecht and he became a co-founder of the new company. Tasmanian software designer Cameron Adams was also brought on board and is the third co-founder of Canva.
This valuation is impressive especially when considering Canva has more than doubled its worth since April of this year when it was valued at $A19 billion. Canva’s figures jumped dramatically after a $US200 million funding round where a range of investment firms raised capital for Canva. Perkins has been reported as saying the fundraising was like a “vote of confidence” from their investors.
The cash injection comes as Canva garnered 60 million monthly active users across 190 countries, with over 2000 employees.
Adams has a stake in Canva worth an estimated $A6 billion while the husband and wife duo of Perkins and Obrecht hold a 30 per cent stake, so they now have over $A16 billion between them.
Perkins announced the news this week but said she plans to give away a substantial chunk of her fortune to charity: “It has felt strange when people refer to us as ‘billionaires’ as it has never felt like our money, we’ve always felt that we’re purely custodians of it,” Perkins wrote in a post.
“As we’ve previously shared, it’s long been our intention to give the wealth away, and we’ve been thinking long and hard about the best way to start that journey.
“We are very pleased to share the news that Cliff and I will be committing the vast majority of our equity (30 per cent of Canva) to do good in the world, and plan to do this through the Canva Foundation,” she added.
The money is earmarked for GiveDirectly, a charity pilot program which will give away $US10 million to struggling nations in the south of Africa.
Canva has already given money to charity prior to this latest announcement.
For more information about Canva, visit here.