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Canva CEO Melanie Perkins enters the A.I. race in her own way

Melanie Perkins has always operated on her own timeline. She founded Canva, the $26-billion visual communications company, with a decade-long vision to challenge every element of digital publishing. So as tech companies recently started debuting new A.I. tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing Chat, she paid close attention – but was not in any rush.

Yesterday, Canva introduced its own A.I. tools, a suite of features that let the 120 million users of its design products add A.I.-generated elements to what they create. Users who are building presentations, creating social media content, or writing documents can ask Canva to take the first stab at drafting that content. For example, given a prompt like “styling proposal from interior decorator,” Canva’s A.I. will spit out a detailed interior decorating presentation. The tool, while not perfect, is supposed to give users a head start.

A look at Canva's new A.I. features. Courtesy of Canva
Magic Presentation – Canva

Perkins, whom I profiled last year, tends to keep her blinders on at Canva’s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, and avoid dwelling too much on what competitors are up to (at least publicly). But with a goal to make Canva one of the world’s top-tier tech companies—it’s already the most valuable female-founded and -led startup—she’s certainly paying attention.

“What’s been extraordinarily exciting to see is the pace of change in technology,” she told me before this product launch. “What’s really exciting is how rapidly technology is advancing. It really supercharges what we set out to do 10 years ago.”

Unlike some of its competitors, Canva avoids marketing its technology using the buzzword “A.I.” The startup instead has branded its new suite of tools with the word “magic,” a choice that fits with the platform’s effort to make its features seem user-friendly and accessible. “We believe what our customers really want is magic, versus the tech ecosystem that talks a lot about…” she says, trailing off.

As a business, Canva has set its sights on the enterprise market with the goal to become the next Microsoft or Adobe. The company is still a long way from achieving that milestone, with about $1 billion in annual revenue. But its A.I. debut builds on last fall’s launch of its visual worksuite of enterprise products that compete against tools like Google Docs and PowerPoint.

Melanie Perkins – CEO Cava

Canva’s features for brands are geared toward design-minded staffers in large organizations that follow meticulous brand guidelines. The new tools let users fix problems, like automatically replacing an old logo with a new one everywhere it appears within Canva’s ecosystem.

Perkins is known for setting a top priority every year—rework the code base, go international, launch A.I. The launch of the visual worksuite and A.I. products in a single six-month span checked two major ideas off her to-do list. She’s reluctant to say what her next priority is. “We’re going to continue to do what we’ve always been doing, which is to enable people to take their ideas and turn them into design and do that seamlessly and magically,” she says.


Canva is a web-based graphic design platform that allows users to create a wide range of visual content, including social media graphics, posters, presentations, logos, and more. Canva provides an intuitive drag-and-drop interface and a library of millions of stock photos, illustrations, icons, and fonts, making it easy for users to create professional-looking designs without needing advanced design skills.

Canva also offers a range of templates for different types of designs, making it easy to create designs that are optimized for different social media platforms, marketing campaigns, and other purposes. Users can also collaborate with others on designs and share them easily via email or social media.

Canva was founded in 2012 and has since grown to become one of the most popular graphic design tools on the web, with millions of users worldwide.


  1. Design Templates: Canva provides an extensive collection of professionally designed templates for various purposes, including social media posts, presentations, flyers, posters, infographics, and more. These templates serve as a starting point, allowing users to customize and personalize them to suit their specific needs. The wide range of templates caters to different industries, styles, and design preferences.
  2. User-Friendly Interface: Canva’s interface is intuitive and user-friendly, making it accessible to individuals with little to no design experience. The drag-and-drop functionality, coupled with a vast library of design elements such as images, icons, shapes, and fonts, allows users to effortlessly create visually appealing designs. The interface is designed to streamline the design process and ensure a smooth user experience.
  3. Customization Options: Canva offers a plethora of customization options, enabling users to personalize their designs to align with their brand or personal style. Users can modify colors, fonts, images, and layout arrangements to create unique and captivating visuals that effectively communicate their message. This flexibility ensures that designs are not limited by preset styles or constraints.
  4. Collaboration and Sharing: Canva facilitates collaboration among team members or clients by providing real-time editing and commenting features. Multiple users can work on a design simultaneously, making it a valuable tool for projects that require collaboration and feedback. Additionally, Canva allows designs to be easily shared, either by providing a link, downloading the file, or directly publishing to social media platforms.
  5. Branding and Consistency: Canva’s Brand Kit feature enables users to create and maintain consistent branding across all their designs. Users can upload their logos, fonts, and color palettes to the Brand Kit, ensuring that these elements are readily available for use in any design. This feature streamlines the design process and helps businesses maintain a cohesive visual identity.

The Pros of Canva:

  1. Accessibility and Ease of Use: Canva’s user-friendly interface and intuitive design tools make it accessible to users of all skill levels. Even those with limited design experience can create professional-looking designs with ease, saving time and resources.
  2. Versatility: Canva caters to a wide range of design needs, from social media graphics to presentations and marketing collateral. Its diverse library of templates and design elements allows users to create visually stunning content for various purposes.
  3. Cost-Effective Solution: Canva offers both free and premium subscription options, making it a cost-effective solution for individuals and businesses. While the free version provides a vast array of features, the premium subscription unlocks additional functionalities and access to premium templates and images.
  4. Time-Saving Features: Canva’s pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop functionality significantly reduce the time required to create designs from scratch. This enables users to focus on the content and message rather than spending excessive time on the design process.
  5. Community and Inspiration: Canva has a thriving community where users can discover and share designs, participate in design challenges, and seek inspiration. The community aspect fosters creativity, encourages collaboration, and provides opportunities for growth and learning.