Is Envato an Australian unicorn? Nobody knows — not even its founders


Envato founders Cyan and Collis Ta'eed.

There’s a lot of speculation about Melbourne digital marketplace startup Envato, specifically regarding whether it should be granted access to the super exclusive Aussie unicorn club.

Founded in 2006 by husband-and-wife team Collis and Cyan Ta’eed, the startup is still entirely bootstrapped, with only four shareholders.

Now, it employs more than 500 people across the world, and has about 10 million community members in 200 countries.

In the financial year ending in 2017, the startup made $US82.3 million ($115.5 million) in revenue, while its flagship Envato Elements product had an annual recurring revenue rate of $US25 million.

But, when it comes to the company’s actual value, nobody really knows. And I mean nobody. Cyan Ta’eed tells StartupSmart the founders and leadership team have genuinely never looked into it.

“We’ve never gone through that process ourselves because we’ve never needed to,” she says.

When it comes to measuring success, “there are plenty of different ways to skin a cat”, the founder adds.

She regards valuations proposed in the press with interest, but says it’s actually quite difficult to figure out how a company should be valued, especially when it’s received no outside investment.

It’s “quite opaque”, Ta’eed says.

“It doesn’t feel like something that is worth focusing on a great deal because you just don’t know how it stands up,” she adds.

“It’s really difficult to analyse it with the regard I would want to analyse something like that with, in order to come to a valuation that I feel makes sense.”

With regards to the company’s growth, Ta’eed reveals it’s reached more than $700 million in terms of what its community has earned.

Now it’s aiming for $1 billion “and I think we’re going to get there”, she says.

The company is profitable and investing in acquisitions. Just last week Envato announced it was acquiring stock photo subscription service Twenty20, and in July last year it acquired Mexican mockup and design startup Placeit.

Ta’eed also says the subscription element of the business is growing quickly.

“I feel really excited and positive about where the business is going,” she says.

“There’s a lot of really good stuff happening, and I tend to focus on that because for me that’s real.”

Ta’eed assures StartupSmart that if she knew Envato’s true valuation, she would let us know.

“If I had clarity, I would say ‘yeah sure’.”

But, as it stands, there has been no reason as of yet to conduct the in-depth analysis it would require. And that’s not likely to change any time soon.

“If we were about to do something which would require that, then absolutely we would do it, but we don’t have any plans in that area,” she says.

“We’re looking at scaling, profitability, impact and what we’re producing from an innovation point of view.”

NOW READ: Unicorns in the making: Algorithm pegs two Aussie startups for $1 billion valuations

NOW READ: Envato’s Cyan Ta’eed launches new venture Milkshake: Why the serial founder loves the early-stage hustle


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