Canva goes after Adobe users with work tools to speed up growth

Canva Inc. unveiled a new suite of design tools for enterprise users, seeking to lure some of rival Adobe Inc.’s biggest customers and accelerate revenue growth.

The Australian creative software company is pushing out features made for teams including those in human resources, sales and design, executives said at a company event in Los Angeles on Thursday. The tools make it easier to modify graphics or large chunks of text to make them consistent with the organization’s style, and allow a template for an internal deck or newsletter to be pulled up with one click.

By expanding beyond the consumer market, Canva is increasingly encroaching on Adobe’s turf. The closely held company, which has focused on making easy-to-use products targeted at people without formal design training, raised funds at a $26 billion valuation this year and is trying to take advantage of the generative AI boom to speed up growth.

“We are bringing that exact same approach to enterprise as we have done with the consumer market,” Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Melanie Perkins said. “A platform that’s really easy to understand and use is critical.”

The company, which was founded slightly more than a decade ago, has emerged as a strong rival to Adobe, the longtime leader in creative software for graphic arts professionals. Canva this year acquired the Affinity suite of creative software popular with Mac users, and earlier unveiled artificial intelligence-powered tools to help in video and photo editing. Its AI tools have been used more than 6.5 billion times since their launch in October.

Adobe has become such a dominant player in technology design tools, including Photoshop and Illustrator, that antitrust regulators have raised concerns over its control. The company tried to buy design software maker Figma Inc. for $20 billion, but called the deal off after opposition from authorities in Europe and the US.

Like Canva, Adobe has added AI features throughout its products recently. But its shares have fallen about 19% this year after the Figma deal fell through and competition intensified.

Investors have long viewed Canva as a candidate to go public, though it hasn’t discussed plans for doing so. It recently completed a $2.5 billion secondary share sale, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Cliff Obrecht said.

“We’re not going to be doing increasingly larger secondary transactions every year,” he said. “It just becomes logistically sound to list but we’re in no rush.”

The startup said it has surpassed $2.3 billion in annualized revenue, with sales growing at a 50% clip year-over-year. It added more than 95 million users over the past 18 months — helped by new AI and workplace features — bringing the total active users to over 185 million.

“What’s driving the majority of our growth is word-of-mouth,” Obrecht said. “We really want to be leaders in the whole visual communication stack from the professional designer down to every knowledge worker.”

Canva also announced a redesign of its platform interface, in a step to make its website easier to use even as it adds more sophisticated tools and features to compete with rivals including Adobe, Figma and Microsoft Corp.’s office suite.

“They do have to figure out how to go after Adobe if they really want to get into the fullness of the market where there are fewer seats but higher dollars available,” said Jonathan Curtis, the chief investment officer of Franklin Equity Group, Franklin Templeton’s growth and innovation investment team in Silicon Valley. An arm of the group invested in Canva in 2021.

“Ultimately, Canva needs to provide liquidity to their existing shareholders and employees,” Curtis said. “If they are public, they will get a currency which will be very valuable for them to go continue growing.” –BLOOMBERG