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Canva, the $26 billion design startup, launches a productivity suite to take on Google Docs and Microsoft Office

September 14, 2022, 5:00 AM UTC
Canva cofounder and CEO Melanie Perkins.
David Fitzgerald—Sportsfile for Web Summit/Getty Images

Canva, the Australian graphic design business valued at $26 billion, is introducing a new suite of digital workplace products, the company announced Wednesday in Sydney. The startup known for easy-to-use design tools will on Wednesday begin rolling out its “visual worksuite,” a set of professional tools for the creation of collaborative documents, websites, and data visualization. Canva’s new services represent a direct challenge to Google Docs, Microsoft Office, and Adobe, whose digital tools are mainstays of the modern workplace.

With the launch, Canva hopes to transform itself from a mainly consumer-focused brand often used by individual teams to design social media graphics and presentations to a critical business tool—and, in the process, crack open the productivity management software market valued at $47.3 billion and growing at 13% a year, according to Grand View Research.

“Visual communication is becoming an increasingly critical skill for teams of every size across almost every industry,” cofounder and CEO Melanie Perkins said in a statement. “We’re bringing simple design products to the workplace to empower every employee, at every organization, and on every device.”

Courtesy of Canva

Perkins, chief operating officer Cliff Obrecht, and chief product officer Cameron Adams founded Canva a decade ago. The Sydney-based startup was valued at $40 billion in 2021 before investors cut its valuation to $26 billion earlier this year, citing a desire to better match the public markets. Still, the company is the highest-valued female-founded startup in the world. 

The 3,000-person company has built up that valuation over the past decade through design products users rely on to create Instagram graphics, slide decks, and more. Canva’s basic features are free, but the company charges customers to access higher tiers. Its new products, which are web-based, similarly will be free with additional purchase options available. The new worksuite of products is integrated, allowing users to work across formats. A document created with Canva’s Google Docs competitor can be turned into a slide in its presentation tool, for example.

Tackling the whole of modern publishing—including workplace tools—has been part of Perkins and Obrecht’s vision for Canva all along, but they started small. Today’s Canva grew out of Fusion Books, the yearbook publisher the young couple founded a decade ago. “We had this in our pitch deck all the way back in 2011,” Perkins told journalists in Sydney on Tuesday. “This was the final pillar.”

Canva says it has 85 million users and 4 million paying customers. In addition to documents, the company is introducing a website-building tool, a new category that allows Canva to take on Squarespace and other website design leaders. (Canva’s collection of tools does not feature email, often included in digital workplace product packages.)

The startup will also launch a creator network that allows photographers and other artists to receive payment for graphics they upload to the Canva ecosystem and an app marketplace that lets developers build new features that can be made available for paid download. Both features open up new streams of revenue for Canva.

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