Canva’s smart acquisitions fuel its latest chapter of growth - Hindustan Times
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Canva’s smart acquisitions fuel its latest chapter of growth

May 23, 2024 10:05 PM IST

Even as Affinity becomes the first creative software to adopt the ARM-standard that’ll define PCs in the next few years, Canva confirms it’ll remain a separate app

LOS ANGELES: It was in March when Canva, an incredibly popular AI driven visual communication platform, announced that they’re acquiring the professional creative software suite Affinity. This was always going to be a significant step for the platform, as it builds its competition against tech giants including Adobe, Google and Microsoft with broadening functionality, piece by piece. Now in its arsenal are three apps from the UK based Serif, which the company credits provide the foundation for Canva suite’s transformation into a “full-stack solution for all designers, including professional graphic designers, illustrators and typographers.”

At Canva Create 2024, Affinity announced the new v2.5, which includes new advanced editing options. (Official image)
At Canva Create 2024, Affinity announced the new v2.5, which includes new advanced editing options. (Official image)

At Canva Create 2024, Affinity announced the new v2.5, which includes new advanced editing options that further pushes the capabilities envelope for ‘pro’ editing performance. The upgrades include Variable Font support which opens a new world of typographic design choices for designers, and the addition of a Stroke Width Tool for an on-document way of editing the pressure profile of any curve.

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Serif developed the three apps, namely Affinity Designer 2, Affinity Photo 2 and Affinity Publisher 2, as cross platform and are available across Apple iPad, Apple Mac, as well as Microsoft Windows computing devices. Affinity apps have more than 3 million users, most of them creative professionals.

Affinity apps now also support ARM64 chips, which means it is already optimized for upcoming Windows PCs that will increasingly push the case for these new architecture chips that attempt to find a balance between performance and power frugality. Chipmakers that provide the silicon for Microsoft’s Windows PC ecosystem are trying to find an answer to performance and battery life leaps that Apple’s Silicon for Macs, has made in the last couple of years.

“Affinity is hands down the fastest performing creative suite on the market. The team have done an amazing job to build an architecture that really cannot be compared,” says Adams. “The ability to zoom in 50 million percent on an illustration and see no slowdown, is just amazing,” says Cameron Adams, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Canva.

There is of course the question about Affinity’s competition with Adobe’s equally popular tools too, and whether this acquisition means Affinity will be integrated within Canva’s suite. The company is cognizant to Affinity’s strong community of users, who have over the years helped shape the specifics of the app. For now, Canva and Affinity will exist as separate apps, and platforms.

“We really believe that designers deserve to have alternatives, designers deserve to have really fast tools and designers deserve to have a company that listens to their needs,” says Melanie Perkins, co-founder, and CEO of Canva.

This summer is expected to host significant forward movement for Windows PCs on ARM architecture, led by Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon X Elite chips. Canva confirms Affinity is the first creative software with end-to-end native ARM support, a progression that’ll give it a first mover advantage for the PC ecosystem’s new chip standard adoption.

Setting up a solid foundation

The “pro” tools are important, and Affinity brings exactly that demographic of users into Canva’s fold – Affinity’s focus areas are professional photo editing, illustration, graphic design and page layout. Canva already has a user base that’s 180 million strong.

It is perhaps important to illustrate Canva’s pin-pointed accuracy in identifying the perfect acquisitions, for its model and business plan, in Europe. Though they only opened doors for the London headquarters in 2023, Flourish (2022), Kaleido (2021), Smartmockups (2021), Pexels (2019) and Pixabay (2019) are already part of the Canva family. They’ve identified the talent, diversity of tools and values in this part of the world.

These acquisitions complement Canva’s in-house efforts at developing and refining AI models, as well as the partnership with AI giant OpenAI. “We were one of the very first companies to write a GPT for their ChatGPT program and we’re among the top places for most usages of the GPT,” says Adams. Yet, the core of the modern Canva experience, which is functionality such as Magic Design and the new Magic Video editing set that includes a new background voice remover, all use models that have been developed by Canva’s engineers.

Canva is also inviting schools and non-profits to sign up to a wait list, for free access to Affinity. The Canva platform, they say, is already available at no cost to schools and non-profits globally, so much so that more than 60 million students and teachers are using the platform in many countries. That’s before we add 600,000 charities and registered non-profits, who have similar access. “Free licenses are set to be provided to those on the wait list in the coming months,” the company says in a statement.

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