Australian graphic design firm Canva has become Australia’s first tech unicorn. The Sydney-based company, which currently employs 250 people, received a funding round of $40 million from China’s arm of Sequoia Capital, Valley-based VC Felicis Ventures and Sydney neighbor Blackbird Capital. That puts its valuation at $1bn – enough to sneak into tech’s ever-expanding roster of unicorn brands alongside compatriot firm Atlassian.
Canva’s total funding is now just under $86m, which also includes cash from Hollywood stars Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson. The company, which designs banners, logos and presentations, will use its latest injection to double its workforce and expand operations in the new year, according to co-founder Melanie Perkins.
The University of Western Australia graduate, who alongside Cliff Obrecht founded Canva in 2012, told The Sydney Morning Herald that while the firm was profitable, “it’d be crazy not to take” the money, which will help Canva “grow our team as rapidly as we can and know that we’ve got the financial backing to make those decisions very easily.”
Canva is Australia’s second unicorn firm, following software giant Atlassian, whose 2015 IPO launched it into the ranks of tech royalty. It is now worth $11bn – more than established Australian brands such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and national air carrier Qantas.
Sydney, which with a population of 5m is Australia’s largest city, has established itself in recent years as the country’s principle tech hub. On top of Canva and Atlassian’s successes, the city’s George Street strip has emerged as a major location for startups and entrepreneurs. Last November Australia’s government welcomed Mastercard to a new Sydney campus, which will provide workspace for its 560 local members of staff and an innovation hub.