With Affinity acquisition, Canva should be able to compete better with Adobe’s creative tools


Canva, the high-flying Australian design and visual communication startup, announced today it was acquiring Affinity (formerly Serif), a creative tools company based in the U.K. Bloomberg reported that the deal was worth several hundred million pounds (approximately $380 million U.S.), and the company confirmed to TechCrunch that the number was accurate.

Canva has typically targeted the beginner for their products, but company co-founder Cliff Obrecht sees the acquisition opening the door to more advanced users. “While our last decade at Canva has focused heavily on the 99% of knowledge workers without design training, truly empowering the world to design includes empowering professional designers too,” he wrote in a blog post announcing the deal. “By joining forces with Affinity, we’re excited to unlock the full spectrum of designers at every level and stage of the design journey.”

With Affinity, the company can also better compete with Adobe, particularly Adobe Express, says Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “Canva needed products with more complex capabilities to go up against Adobe,” Wang told TechCrunch. ”Their basic offering wasn’t as robust as Adobe Express. Affinity has a really easy-to-use photo editor. The page layout is also very easy to use,” he said. What’s more, he said that the two company cultures are well aligned.

As you can imagine, both sides of the acquisition were “excited” and “delighted” by the deal — and why wouldn’t they be given they just exchanged a bunch of money to join forces? In a blog post on the Affinity website, CEO Ashley Hewson tried to allay customer fears about the change. “We know that those of you who’ve put your faith in Affinity, some since we launched our very first Mac app, will have questions about what this means for the future of our products,” he wrote in the post.

But he believes (along with every CEO of every acquired company ever) that they can do so much more with the resources of the much larger Canva than they could ever do on their own. “In Canva, we’ve found a kindred spirit who can help us take Affinity to new levels. Their extra resources will mean we can deliver much more, much faster,” he wrote.

Ehab Bandar, founder at design consultancy Bigtable.co, sees a mixed bag here for both sides. “For Affinity users, it’s good news/bad news. I’m optimistic that it will stay separate, but pessimistic that they’ll have to endure a subscription plan versus one-time purchase,” Bandar told TechCrunch. “For Canva users, Canva co-founder Cameron Adams has indicated that there are already ideas for lightweight integration into the more professional design services of Affinity. As their initial non-designer customer base matures, they will expect more powerful tools, and Affinity will help deter some Adobe converts.”

In 2021 when valuations were flying high, Canva reached the lofty heights of $40 billion. In a recent secondary stock sale, however, the company fell to earth some, although with a still hefty valuation of $26 billion.

It certainly leaves them with more than enough value on the table to make purchases like this one. With Affinity, Canva gains 3 million users worldwide along with 90 employees who will be joining the company. The deal has already officially closed.



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