Canva is moving beyond graphic design to launch a visual work suite

Canva further establishes itself as more than a user-friendly graphic design tool. The Australian company announced at its Canva Create event that it will introduce a suite of new products to round out its product offerings: Canva Docs, Canva Websites, Canva Whiteboards and Data Visualization, which come from the acquisition of Flourishing.

Canva will also expand its print offerings and bring its background removal technology to videos. Canva Presentations, launching in 2021, will get a remote control feature that allows presenters to connect other devices (like a phone) to use as a virtual clicker.

Canva's remote control feature for presentations

Canva’s remote control feature for presentations

“For the last two years, we’ve been working on essentially the new era of Canva,” said Cliff Obrecht, Canva’s co-founder and COO, in an interview with TechCrunch. “Canva has always been very much an individual product with deep penetration into the workplace. But we’ve never released this work package that’s suitable for organizations.”

According to Canva, 85% of Fortune 500 companies, including FedEx, L’Oreal and Salesforce, use Canva’s design tools. Over 4.4 million paying customers for Canva for Teams launched last year, but like all Canva products, there will be a freemium model for its work suite. Like its Teams product, Work Suite will include collaboration features that allow team members to work together in real time on documents.

Any worksuite product will naturally draw comparisons to the Google or Microsoft Office suite. But Obrecht says Canva isn’t trying to compete with these corporate giants. Instead, he sees Canva as the first visual companion to these tools.

Canva Video's background removal feature

Canva Video’s background removal feature

“We’re not trying to compete directly with Google Docs,” Obrecht told TechCrunch. “Our products are inherently visual, so we look very visually, what does a visual document look like? How do you turn this boring document, which is all text-based, into something attractive?’

Canva’s Worksuite products are interoperable — so if you make a presentation, you can turn it into a document or website.

Canva also plans to release its API in beta, allowing developers to more easily integrate with the working suite. Additionally, Canva has launched a creator program where highly skilled designers can sell templates, photos and designs to Canva users. Obrecht declined to share the revenue split between Canva and its creators, saying it varies depending on the complexity of the product — for example, an ultra-technical video template can earn a creator more money than a stock photo.

The drag and drop feature in Canva Docs

The drag and drop feature in Canva Docs

Last year, Canva raised $200 million on a A $40 billion valuation. At a time when venture capital is harder to find and valuations are falling, Obrecht thinks Canva is well-positioned to move forward.

“We’re in a really fortunate position where we’re a profitable company and, unlike a lot of our peers, we also have a huge cash balance,” Obrecht said. He told TechCrunch that Canva has about $700 million in the bank and that the company is hiring aggressively. The company is currently listed 227 open roles on its website.

Obrecht says Canva owes its profitability to the nature of Australia’s tech ecosystem, which is far removed from Silicon Valley, where venture capital can (or used to) flow freely.

“We grew up in Perth, Western Australia, which is the most isolated city in the world,” Obrecht said. “We didn’t know what venture capital was. We had what we thought was a small business, and then when we went to the US, everyone was like, “Oh, you’ve got a startup!”

So, Canva started with business loans and worked to become profitable from the ground up.

“We built this really sustainable, profitable engine that was lean, and then we got capital on board and then … we haven’t spent the capital because we have this lean business that actually makes money,” Obrecht said. “It really set us up for success.”

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