‘We’re really well insulated’: Canva to escape tech carnage

The tech purge that has claimed about 150,000 jobs worldwide so far this year, and blighted some of Australia’s biggest tech names such as Atlassian and Xero, will not impact Australian graphic design software darling Canva.

Ahead of the privately owned company’s Canva Create conference in Sydney on Thursday, chief executive Melanie Perkins said the company was in a uniquely strong position in the industry.

Canva founders Cameron Adams, Cliff Obrecht and Melanie Perkins.

“There’s a lot of choppy seas out there at the moment, as I’m sure you’re all very well aware. So being profitable, with a strong cash balance, meaning we don’t need to raise funds … has been very, very helpful,” she said.

Canva’s freemium model – most users pay nothing to use its products – also gives it a tailwind in uncertain economic conditions, the company said.

Canva’s chief product officer, Cameron Adams, said the company’s long-term profitability and a series of capital raisings had ensured its stability whatever lies ahead compared with others in the tech sector.

“I think we’ve been really well insulated. And our profitability metrics have given us the ability to kind of breathe a sigh of relief that we are much more fortunate than a lot of other companies that are out there,” he said.

“If something drastic did occur in global markets, we would have a war chest of funds that we could draw on. But given that we’re profitable, it hasn’t been necessary, because we can afford to pay everyone, we can afford to pay for all our services.”

But Canva also held back from the hiring spree that hit the sector post-COVID and remained selective with its hiring so it would not have to let people go if circumstances changed.

“We didn’t want to be in that position.”

Adams said the most recent rounds of fundraising had served more of a strategic purpose for the group in terms of bringing in trusted advisers who could help with Canva’s growth strategy.

Last October Atlassian launched a hiring spree, which included a promotional camper van, but this year it has cut jobs.

Earlier this month, the tech purge claimed more than 1300 staff from Atlassian and Xero in the space of a week.

For Atlassian, it represented an abrupt reversal in less than six months when it went from a hiring spree, replete with a branded campervan, to 500 jobs gone globally.

According to Morningstar analyst James Rogers, the latest round of 10,000 job cuts at Meta and 9000 at Amazon means 2023 is on pace to surpass last year’s total, with more than 148,000 global technology-sector employees having been laid off since the start of 2023.

“Last year, 1024 tech companies laid off a total of 154,336 employees,” he said, citing data from Layoffs.fyi.

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