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News  20, Mar 2013

Australia’s latest US$31.1M series A fund Blackbird Ventures invests in collaborative online design platform Canva

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Canva, a collaborative online design platform for non-designers based in Australia, has announced that it has raised US$3 million in seed funding from Australian and US investors, including Blackbird Ventures, Matrix Partners, InterWest Partners and 500 Startups.

Founded by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams, Canva is an online platform that lets anyone create quality designs easily collaboratively. The funding round is also joined by angel investor Bill Tai, Director of Engineering at Facebook Lars Rasmussen, Yahoo! CFO Ken Goldman, and former Seek co-founder Paul Bassat and partner at Square Peg Ventures. 

Blackbird Ventures is Australia’s latest A$30 million (US$31.1 million) venture capital fund. Founded in August last year, Blackbird aims to fill the Series A funding rounds in the Australia startup scene. Some of its partners include Startmate and Southern Cross Venture Partners, and the founders of successful Australian companies including Atlassian, Campaign Monitor and Aconex. Silicon Valley venture capitalists Bill Tai and Dave McClure is also backing the newly set fund. According to Startupsmart, Blackbird expects to make around 25 investments from the fund.

Canva is the first investment by Blackbird Ventures.

Read also: Asia’s top venture capitalists predict what’s in store for 2013

According to Niki Scevak, cofounder of Blackbird, there is a lack of Series A investments in Australia. While US accelerators and venture capitalists are very interested to invest in more Australian companies, they typically want to invest in the US$10 to 20 million range. Startups in Australia therefore have limited options at the US$2 to 5 million Series A round. This is where Blackbird comes in.

Other than the capital, Blackbird also has strong links to Silicon Valley. Partner Bill Tai echoes this. “As more capital looks to fuel the growing number of world-class start-ups from Australia, Blackbird is positioned to be the trusted investment partner for the US VC ecosystem.” Bill Tai has made quite some fame for himself: he is the chairman of Maxthon, board member of Glyde and Scribd, and seed investor in Ark.com, an angel investor in Tweetdeck, Tango, Voxer, Zoom.us, among several others.

Other than Adventure VC and Pollenizer, Blackbird Ventures is definitely another venture capital fund in Australia that we expect to hear a lot more from.

Read also: Melbourne VC Adventure Capital looks to raise A$80M to invest in Australia startups

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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