Canva CEO: Adobe Has Been in a ‘One Horse Race’ for Too Long

An image displaying two logos side by side: on the left, the Affinity logo, consisting of a triangular shape made up of three linked lines, with the word "Affinity" below it; on the right, the Canva logo in a stylish blue and purple gradient text.

In an interview with The Verge, Canva’s CEO Melanie Perkins says that the design world needs more alternatives to Adobe, which is part of why her company purchased Serif Affinity earlier this year.

Speaking to editor-in-chief Nilay Patel on the Decoder Podcast, Perkins admits that there has not been a strong challenger to Adobe in a long time, and that is something she and Canva hope to change.

“In the design market, there hasn’t been a strong challenger for a long time. It has been a little bit of a one-horse race, and I don’t think that works out well for anyone or certainly not well for the consumers or the designers specifically,” she says. “I think that being able to have another alternative in the market for professional designers benefits everyone.”

Most photographers would agree; even those who are inextricably tied to Adobe’s creative tools would find it difficult to argue against the presence of a strong competitor. That said, Canva’s moves don’t appear to be focused at all on photography.

By her admission, Canva is and has always been a tool for design. The power of the platform lies in how easy it is to use, allowing nearly anyone to quickly lay out logos and assets onto Canva templates. Perkins says the purchase of Affinity was meant to close the loop, so to speak, on that goal.

“Affinity is about creating all of those assets for professional designers. We think that it has such a beloved community that really loves Affinity — the product and their approach — and it’s something that we’re investing really heavily in to ensure we protect. That incredible community can take their assets if they want, and they can use it on Canva, but those things we think work beautifully hand in hand,” Perkins says.

“When we met Affinity, and we’ve been hearing and admiring their work from afar, we knew that they were creating a faster, better alternative. We think that alternatives in the market are a really good thing for consumers, and they’ve got such a passionate community. What we wanted to do was to work with Affinity to ensure that we are able to create an incredibly powerful offering that is truly living up to what Affinity uses and the community wants, expects, and deserves.”

For designers, Perkins is saying all the right things. Unfortunately, not a single time during the interview did Perkins mention photos, videos, or supporting those professions. While Canva’s acquisition of Affinity gives the platform a huge boost in both clout and funding toward the goal of taking on Adobe, photographers are left questioning if the same attention will be paid to them.

Right now, Adobe stands alone as a platform with immediate RAW support that is tied with a graphic design platform. If Canva doesn’t put the effort into building that kind of support into Affinity, Adobe can still hold that over photographers’ heads.