Big picture is bright: Canva boss

Canva co-founder Cameron Adams was around for the dotcom bust almost 20 years ago, a time when high-growth companies collapsed en masse and investors lost confidence in the then-nascent tech sector.

According to Mr Adams, while there’s mounting talk of a tech bubble in 2018 — with companies such as Facebook and Tesla having their valuations questioned — there’s no chance of a similar crash afflicting the sector.

“Back in 2000, I don’t think Australia felt it very much,” he said. “Because of the nascent nature of the internet, there was the ability for the entire internet scene to be affected by what went on.

“Nowadays, the internet is so embedded in our way of life and there are so many services built on top of it, that if there was a decline in the market I don’t think it’d have a similar effect now.

“Any market has ups and downs but something of the magnitude of what we saw in 2000 … I don’t think we can have that now.”

Mr Adams added that if there was a severe downturn, Canva was in the fortunate position of being a profitable company, one with more than 10 million monthly active users.

“We’ve been profitable for over a year,” he said. “There’s money coming in, we’re pretty well positioned and we’re always thinking about the long-term success of Canva.”

Canva now has 310 employees, and Mr Adams said his day-to-day focus was on how to deal with the company’s processes as it continued to grow rapidly.

“I spend a lot of time mentoring and coaching other people within the company, and still looking at the product, finding ways to improve it and making sure it’s heading in the right direction,” he said.

“In general it’s about making sure all of the teams are humming along nicely and are on track to hit all of their really big, lofty goals.”

Before he co-founded Canva, Mr Adams was a student at the University of Melbourne studying computer science and law, working on the side as a graphic design artist, including at the uni’s student newspaper.

“I wasn’t feeling as passionate for my degree as I was for my design work,” he said. “I quickly gathered enough design clients to start my own business, and that coincided with the rise of the internet here in Australia.”

Mr Adams’ early design clients included NAB and Atlassian, and a contact recommended him for a job at Google, where he ended up working on its ill-fated Google Wave social media product.

It was at Google that the executive learnt how to build a start-up, growing the secretive Google Wave internal team from three people to 40 engineers.

“It got to about 60 in the end,” he said. “It was an interesting experience. It was an independent entity inside Google and we were creating products from scratch.”

Those lessons will be the focus of an upcoming talk for QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA), with Mr Adams the keynote speaker at its Creative3 event.

“I’ll be talking a bit about my journey and how I’ve gained my experience over the years,” Mr Adams said. “It’s also really important to highlight the fusion of creativity and business. A lot of really valuable things come out of that. People who are creative have a very different way of thinking and how they want to affect the world.

“They’re much more empathetic, and consider what’s going on in the world and how our actions affect it.

“I’ll be talking about how creativity can have a positive effect, it’s the extra impact of adding something to the world beyond another revenue stream.

“I’m really keen to encourage creatives to find an entrepreneurial spirit in them, to start more creative enterprises and build a much more empathetic and fun world.”

Other speakers at the Queensland event will include writer, TV presenter and self-confessed “design nerd” Tim Ross, as well as the former editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, Amy Cosper.

Want to meet the speakers live? Enter our competition to win 2 x tickets and an invite to the VIP dinner.

Article courtesy of The Australian.

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