Canva snaps up photo sites, set to offer ‘Netflix-style’ subscriptions

Co-founder and chief executive Melanie Perkins told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald photography is a critical part of the design experience.

“Right from the start we have known we wanted to provide high quality content to everyone,” she said. “We want to enable the high quality ingredients designers are using to be accessible to everyone. This is another step in that mission.”

Canva is one of Australia’s most successful technology companies achieving ‘unicorn’ status with a valuation of $US1 billion ($1.4 billion) after it raised $US40 million from investors last year.

Even rarer amongst fast growing startups, Canva reported a profit for the first time of $1,858,144 after tax for the six months ending December 31, 2017.

Pexels and Pixabaya host over one million images, which have been downloaded over 500 million times. The deals were made after around a year of discussions.

“We have been tracking both Pexels and Pixabay for a while, we have seen our community have been using Canva with them,” Ms Perkins said.

“They have been on our radar for our while and we admire what they are doing. We have been following from afar for many years and we spent quite a bit of time getting to know both the teams. You want to make sure your values are very highly aligned.”

It is the Netflix model, we wanted to offer a way for people to have an all you can eat subscription.

Melanie Perkins

The stock photography sites have around 25 team members and will continue to operate as separate businesses while also integrating into Canva.

Stock photography has suffered from a bad reputation in the past from the lack of diversity in the images available and heavy reliance on stereotypes but Perkins says Pexel and Pixabay will help Canva overcome these issues.

“It has been a core premise behind both of these sites is having a really global contributor base, each of these contributors shows their own lens on the world,” she said. “You are getting 150,000 different perspectives. If people are seeing gaps in the market they can go and contribute to Pexel or Pixabay.”

As well as providing free stock photography Canva is pushing into photography with the launch of Photos Unlimited which will provide access to 50 million images for a monthly subscription of US $12.95.

Canva co-founders Cameron Adams, Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht. Credit:Peter Rae

Photos Unlimited will offer a 50/50 revenue share agreement with contributors.

“It is pioneering a new way to consume content,” Ms Perkins said. “It is the Netflix model, we wanted to offer a way for people to have an all you can eat subscription. That is really for people who are using images really intensely.”

The founders of Pexels and Pixabay said Canva’s strong global presence would help the sites grow with Pexels co-founder Ingo Joseph describing the acquisition as “a perfect match”.


“We’re on our way to put an end to cheesy stock photos and open the doors to more authentic, trending content for free,” he said.

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Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne

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