May 19, 2020

Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar top 40 and under rich list for 6th time

Australia's wealthiest people
Young entrepreneurs
Mike Cannon-Brookes
Scott Farquhar
Addie Thomes
2 min
Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar top 40 and under rich list for 6th time

Australia’s top 100 wealthiest people aged 40 and under for 2017 have been announced.  

Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar top the 2017 Financial Review Young Rich List with combined wealth of $6.08bn.

The technology duo’s rise in wealth follows a surge in the share price of their software company Atlassian on the US NASDAQ exchange market. Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar have topped the Young Rich List a record six times, jointly taking out the number one spot in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and again this year.

Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar’s wealth total as of 2017 equals more than 10 times the wealth of the next two placegetters on this year’s Young Rich List.


The third and fourth spots on the 2017 Young Rich List are occupied by another technology duo - Dave Greiner and Ben Richardson – with a combined wealth of $607mn. Greiner and Richardson are co-founders of Sydney web marketing services company Campaign Monitor.

Number five on the List in Melbourne property developer Tim Gurner, who runs development company Gurner.

Gurner, whose wealth sits at $465mn, hit the headlines in May this year after saying that young Australians would struggle to buy a home when they were “spending $40 a day on smashed avocados and coffees and not working”.

The 100 members of the 2017 Financial Review Young Rich List have enjoyed a stunning rise in wealth this year, with a booming property sector, technology market and beauty industry boosting overall wealth to a record $13.2bn.

Technology remains the dominant sector for 2017 with 38 people on the List, followed by financial services with 12 and retail with eight.

The youngest debutants are HiSmile co-founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic. The Gold Coast duo, aged 22 and 24 respectively, debut at 58 and 59 with a combined wealth of $46mn.

See the full Financial Review Young Rich List on AFR’s website.

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Apr 29, 2021

C-suite spotight: Melanie Perkins, CEO, Canva

Kate Birch
4 min
In our regular C-suite spotlight for APAC, we profile co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn Canva, tech entrepreneur and billionaire Melanie Perkins
In our regular C-suite spotlight for APAC, we profile co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn Canva, tech entrepreneur and billionaire Melanie Perkins...

Who is Melanie Perkins?

She’s the co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn online design platform Canva, who ultimately became one of tech’s youngest female CEOs, at just 30, and recently became a billionaire aged 35, making her one of Australia’s richest and youngest. 

Why is she in the spotlight right now?

Because less than a year after securing a US$6bn valuation during the pandemic, which provided a big boost to business, Canva has recently more than doubled its valuation, securing a $15bn valuation, which makes Perkins a billionaire, according to Forbes. The valuation comes in the wake of a new funding round in the first week of April 2021 led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer and raising $71m. At the same time, Canva announced its business has passed $500m in annualised revenue, up 130% from the year before. 

What is Canva and why is it so successful?

Launched in 2013 by co-founders Melanie Perkins (CEO), Cliff Obrecht (COO) and Cameron Adams (Chief Product Officer), Sydney-headquartered Canva is a free-to-use online graphic design product that allows users to create everything from social media graphics to presentations and other visual content, as well as offering paid subscriptions like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise, with 3 million of its now 55 million users taking paid subscriptions. 

Accruing 750,000 users in its first year, following a number of rounds of investment including from Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital in 2019 and this month’s massive funding round, Canva now boasts 55 million users across 190 countries, with offices in Sydney, Beijing, Manila, and most recently Austin, Texas, and is valued at $3.2 billion. 

And while the company was originally most popular with SMEs, helping them draft and design print and digital assets, it’s since grown to become a real-time collaboration suite that’s being used by big firms including McKinsey, Salesforce and American Airlines. In fact, Canva claims that 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform’s services. They continue to add new features and during the pandemic, added presenter video recording tools. 

How did Perkins get there?

The idea of Canva came to Perkins when she was at the university of Perth, where to earn money on the side she taught students design programmes. Many of her students found platforms like Adobe complicated and frustrating, and the ideas came to her to simplify and democratise design, to make it more approachable and accessible, more collaborative, and ultimately to empower all in design. So, she and university peer Cliff Obrecht, who became Canva co-founder and Perkins’ husband, created an online school yearbook design business, Fusion Yearbooks, to test it out. Operating from her mum’s living room, the yearbook design business was a massive success, expanding to New Zealand and France, and remains the largest yearbook publisher in Australia. 

However, Perkins did not give up on her dream to create a one-stop-shop design site and at one point spent three months living with her brother in San Francisco where she pitched to more than 100 venture capitalists, all of whom rejected Canva. It was following a chance encounter at a conference in Perth with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai, Perkins was winning over major investors including Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson and building out Canva’s design platform with a fast-growing team of tech engineers and a high-profile tech advisor, Lars Rasmussen who co-founded Google Maps. 

It was in 2012 when things really kicked off however when Perkins and Obrecht found a tech co-founder in Cameron Adams. The same year, they closed their first funding round, which was oversubscribed and raised $1.5m, with Canva going live in 2013. In 2019, an $85m funding round led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital gave the company a valuation of $3.2bn, before the most recent funding around in April 2021 leading to a valuation of $15bn. 

In her own words… 

"I think it's pretty important to know that every single person is going through their own trials and tribulations. Knowing that it's tricky for everyone, that any adventure will be filled with rejections and littered with obstacles – somehow makes the adventure a little less lonely. And it's most important for people who feel like they are on the outside to know this."

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