Who Is Melanie Perkins – Canva’s CEO: Biography, Personal Life and Net Worth
|Photo The Software Report
Melanie Perkins’s Biography
Melanie Perkins was born in Perth in the state of Western Australia, Australia in 1988. She is born to multicultural parents: her father being a Malaysian of Filipino and Sri Lankan descent while her mother is Australian-born. By profession, her father is an engineer while her mother is a teacher.
She's ranked as one of Australia's richest women.
According to Australian Financial Review, Melanie ranks No.17 on their 2018 Young Rich List, which highlights the country's wealthiest young people, from supermodels to entrepreneurs. As Canva's CEO, Perkins is reportedly worth $177 million.
Melanie Perkins’s Early Life
At a young age, Perkins had already displayed an entrepreneurial spirit. She opened her first business at the age of 14 and sold handmade scarves in markets around Perth.
She also had aspirations to become a professional skater, even waking up at 4:30 AM for daily training sessions. For the most part of her childhood, she attended Sacred Heart College before enrolling at the University of Western Australia for her college education.
At the University of Western Australia, Perkins majored in communications, psychology, and commerce. She also taught students basic computer design as part of her major. She would then draw inspiration to develop an easier and more efficient graphic design platform after seeing her students struggle to use Adobe Photoshop and other complex design platforms. Perkins dropped out of college at the age of 19 to pursue a business career.
Straight out of high school, Perkins enrolled at the University of Western Australia where she majored in communications, psychology, and commerce. She even found the time to tutor her classmates to use graphic design platforms online.
“People would have to spend an entire semester learning where the buttons were, and that seemed completely ridiculous,” she recalled. “I thought that in the future it was all going to be online and collaborative and much, much simpler than these really hard tools.”
Perkins decided to do something about it.
Working alongside Cliff Obrecht – her then classmate and now husband – she worked tirelessly to set up Fusion Books, a design tool for yearbooks. The website was designed for students to “collaborate and design their profile pages and articles.”
Once finalised, the yearbooks would be printed and delivered to schools across Australia.
“My mum’s living room became my office, and my boyfriend became my business partner, and we started enabling schools to create their yearbooks really, really simply,” Perkins explained to CNBC.
Melanie Perkins’s Net Worth
Melanie is one of the youngest female CEO to be leading a tech startup valued at over a billion dollars. Melanie has raised more than $166 million from investors including Google Maps co-founder Lars Rasmussen, Yahoo! CFO Ken Goldman, and funds such as Bond, General Catalyst, Felicis Ventures and Blackbird.
Being a tech entrepreneur, she has managed to increase her income stream from Canva and Fusion books. There is no latest data but some source claims that she has $128 M+ of net worth. That makes her one of the richest young women in Australia.
Her stock soared as the COVID-19 pandemic confined workers to their homes and forced them to work remotely - doubling her wealth in a matter of just months.
Melanie Perkins’s Husband
She is a relationship with Cliff Obrecht for over 14 years now (as of 2019). Cliff Obrecht is also her business partner and founded Fusion Brooks together. He now serves as Canva’s Chief Operating Officer. They are together from since the university year.
|Last July Obrecht proposed to his wife with an engagement ring worth just $30, and the couple were instead focusing on spending their money on causes like reforming the global health system.
The Birth of Canva
Only in her 30s, Melanie Perkins has already achieved great success at a young age. She is the third richest woman in Australia and the CEO of design software company Canva. But her massive success is a result of perseverance and determination, two qualities that would eventually propel Canva to great heights and also make Perkins one of the most inspirational young business leaders in the world today.
Ready to create a graphic design software anyone could master, Perkins and her partner spent three years acquiring funding. With every rejection came a tweak that would strengthen their pitch.
In 2010, at a conference in Perth, Perkins finally caught a break with the attention of Silicon Valley investor Bill Tai. He invited her to San Francisco to present her vision. Soon after, he began putting her in touch with all the right people. She even got to meet Lars Rasmussen, co-founder of Google Maps – to whom she also pitched the idea.
|Photo Career Contessa
By early 2013, Canva secured a first round of funding worth US$1.5 million – with Tai, Rasmussen, and Matrix Partners among its few investors. The amount was even matched by the Australian government to keep the company on Aussie shore – making the grand total US$3 million.
Soon after, Canva went live and changed design for the better. Attesting to this were its 55 million users from over 190 countries agree – three million of which pay a monthly fee for advanced features. According to CNBC, 85% of Fortune 500 companies are also users. Collectively, they have produced over three billion designs.
In 2019, the company raised an additional US$85 million more in funding from existing investors including Bond, General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Blackbird and Sequoia China. The boost raised its valuation to US$3.2 billion.
In 2020, a boom in remote work helped them secure a US$6 billion valuation.
Lats year Canva raised US$71 million in new funding – led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer at a US$15 billion valuation. Existing investors including Blackbird Ventures and Skip Capital joined in.
|Amidst overwhelming success, Perkins remains true to her values. Forbes estimates that Perkins and her husband are both billionaires – each holding stakes worth about US$2 billion.
The couple plans to set up a foundation to donate their wealth. At the heart of their initiatives are causes like climate change and global wealth inequality. “It’s not our vibe to hoard money,” explained Obrecht on behalf of the couple.
|Canva is a free graphic design platform that allows you to easily create invitations, business cards, flyers, lesson plans, Zoom backgrounds, and more using professionally designed templates.
You can even upload your own photos and add them to Canva's templates using a drag and drop interface. It's like having a basic version of Photoshop that's free and doesn't require extensive photo editing knowledge to use. Here's everything you need to know about using Canva.
Canva is home to thousands of free, professionally designed templates that, thanks to their drag and drop interface, can be customized with just a few clicks. Simply upload your photos to Canva, drop them into the template of your choice, and save the file to your computer.
From basic cropping and straightening to adding textures and color correcting, Canva's beginner-friendly features make editing photos simple. You can add a textured background to give your photo more dimension, insert text to create your own meme, create a photo grid, blur your photo, and more.
Untold Stories about Perkins’s Business
Perkins began her first business in her mom's living room
Stemming from the same problem of clunky graphic design software, Perkins started a company focused specifically on yearbook designs, allowing schools to choose their layouts and colors.
To launch the company, she set up shop in her mother's living room, and eventually took over most of the family home.
Fusion Books is still operating today and is the largest yearbook publisher in Australia, where Perkins is from.
Hollywood celebrities were among the first to invest
While Perkins struggled to get investors early on, she eventually caught the interest of actors Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson.
After learning how to kite surf to impress venture capitalist (and kite surfing connoisseur), Bill Tai, Perkins was introduced to the celebrities.
Both of the Hollywood stars liked her idea and invested in Canva, along with Tai.
|Perkins loves to start her day on Twitter.
While most believe mornings shouldn't be for social media, Melanie disagrees.
For her, logging onto Twitter, along with journaling, jump-starts her day.
"I love reading tweets from our Canva community and have just started using the Five Minute Journal, where you write the answers to a few questions, such as 'I am grateful for...' and 'What would make today great,'" said Perkins in an interview with Thrive Global.
"It's a lovely way to start the day and helps to ensure I'm proactively shaping my day ahead."
|She's known as one of the coolest people in tech.
In 2016, Business Insider ranked Perkins No.3 on their list of the coolest tech people in Australia.
She follows Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founders of the multibillion dollar software company Atlassian.
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