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Valued at $3.2 Billion, Canva Is Ready to Design a New Future and End ‘Death by PowerPoint’

November 26, 2019, 1:30 PM UTC

Every second, 36 users create a new pitch deck, graphic, or design using Canva, a company that hasn’t quite reached the name recognition of say, Facebook or Twitter, but has an ambitious plan to get there in 2020.

That includes helping more than 30,000 of its nonprofit partners create designs they can use to raise money or awareness about social justice issues, a popular use for the 7-year-old company’s products. Presentations and advertising are becoming more visual, CEO Melanie Perkins says, so she’s making it her mission to put design tools in the hands of everyone who uses the internet.

After Canva was used as part of a campaign last year about refugee children being detained on Nauru, an island off the coast of Australia, Perkins saw just how powerful her company’s tools can be.

“In Australia, there was a detention center on an island and there were children being detained, which was horrible and there wasn’t a lot of awareness, and then World Vision created a campaign,” Perkins told Fortune during an interview at Web Summit, an annual technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this month.

“They created a template in Canva and they had the community tailor the message and it got spread far and wide,” she says. “The power of design to communicate a message and really unify a community to achieve its goal is powerful, and I think we are starting to see that more and more.”

This year, the Australian design start-up, which offers easy to use design tools, became a $3.2 billion company, thanks to an $85 million round of funding from Silicon Valley investors including Mary Meeker. That funding, which was announced in October, made it one of the most valuable female-led start-ups in the world. By comparison, Cloudflare, which was co-founded by Michelle Zatlyn, is worth $5.33 billion, according to the company’s closing price on Friday.

While 40% of Canva’s users are in the U.S., the online design tool has users in 190 countries. Perkins says 20 million people use Canva each month.

“Everything has become more visual over the years. We’ve seen ads become more visual. You’ve seen the way sales people used to write letters and now all of a sudden they’re creating custom pitch decks,” says Perkins. “This huge trend across every single industry is becoming more visual, and we think presentations are next.”

Perkins wants to “end death by PowerPoint,” the presentation tool that ruled the 1990s and 2000s.

With that goal in mind, Perkins is staffing up at Canva. The company expects to have 815 employees by the end of 2019. Next year, she plans to double it to help put design tools in the hands of more users, who range from nonprofits and universities to advertisers, small businesses without a big design budget, and people who simply enjoy making their own designs and memes to share online. 

Perkins’ vision for 2020 also includes creating a well designed presentation tool for smartphones. “It is very exciting because you can take a lot of the power of the internet and apply it to presentations, so putting a lot more things like dynamic content, and Giphy, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, and tweets,” she says.

“I think there is so much noise in the world that people are attracted to clear and concise communication,” Perkins says. “And that applies from presentations, through to ads, to every type of content people are consuming nowadays.”

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