The Aussie ‘unicorn’ companies worth more than $1b

Known as unicorns, these Aussie founders have amassed a fortune by creating business for everything from design to new ways of banking.

Six Aussie companies have nailed unicorn status – meaning they are worth more than $1 billion – out of 832 start ups across the world.

Giants like Uber, Airbnb, Snapchat and Pinterest have been part of the ‘unicorn’ club for years – where a private company is valued in the billions.

Now six Aussie companies can boast about their billions, according to a new report from tech market platform CBInsights.

Here are the Aussies making it big.

1. Canva

University sweethearts Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht’s graphic design company Canva was recently is valued at a staggering $US40 billion ($A54.5 billion).

Ms Perkins came up with the initial idea for the company when she was just 19 and studying at a Perth university, while teaching other students design programs to earn extra cash.

She noticed her students struggling to learn complex graphic design systems like Photoshop and thought there had to be a better way.

Her then-partner who she married earlier this year, Cliff Obrecht, became a co-founder. Tasmanian software designer Cameron Adams was also brought on board and is the third co-founder of Canva.

Now, 15 years later, Canva boasts 60 million users in 190 countries.

Its recent $A54.5 billion valuation is impressive especially considering that Canva has more than doubled its worth since April, when it was valued at an estimated $A19 billion.

But Ms Perkins and her husband announced they were going to give away “the vast majority” of their $A16 billion, to charity.

2. Airwallex

Looking to turn banking upside down, Melbourne based Airwallex, is worth a reported $5.5 billion.

Founded in 2015, Airwallex works by allowing a client to open a local bank account in 50 different currencies to more than 130 countries., so they can instantly send and receive money internationally using lower interbank rates.

Opening an account is available in 11 currencies.

Airwallex became Australia’s fastest grown unicorn within three years of its inception.

Lucy Liu, co-founder and president at the global fintech has been named in Forbes 30 under 30 list, the young entrepreneurs, activists, scientists and entertainers making their mark arouind the globe.

3. SafetyCulture

Developed in a Townsville garage, this company originally started out as a workplace safety app, but has morphed into something that’s even being used on reality television The Block.

Valued at $2.2 billion, it has gone from a a checklist app into an operations platform for working teams, called iAuditor.

It’s been featured on this season of The Block as all five couples are using iAuditor to tackle their safety inspections.

SafetyCulture has completed 100 million inspections via the app, which helps collect data, compile reports, identify risk areas, standardise operations and raise safety standards across an organsiation.

The app has also attracted over 1.5 million users in over 85 countries and currently helps 28,000 companies.

Now headquartered in Sydney, SafetyCulture has received investment from the likes of BlackBird Ventures, Index Ventures, former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull, and Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.

4. Culture Amp

The Melbourne-based employee engagement startup is worth over $2 billion and has been given a boost by the pandemic with the switch to working from home.

It works by allowing companies to survey their employees and uses this data to provide insights on how to change workplace culture, manage performance and engage with staff.

It’s used by over 4000 companies including AirBnb and McDonalds.

“The past 12 months have highlighted the value of prioritising culture as a strategic priority,” said Didier Elzinga, CEO and co-founder, Culture Amp.

“Amongst so much uncertainty and change, the way organisations intentionally create and shape work culture and influence the employee experience is more important than ever.”

5. Judo Bank

A bank you’ve probably never heard of – Judo Bank – joined the ranks in 2020 with a valuation of $1.6 billion, representing an increase of over 60 per cent in value over the last seven months during the Covid pandemic.

It’s the first of the Aussie challenger banks to reach the coveted position.

Known as a neoback – meaning its completely digital – Judo Bank has no physical branches to visit. It is backed by the Myer family and was launched in 2018 by David Hornery and NAB banker Joseph Healy.

Back in May 2020, Mr Hornery said it had close to 60 bankers on staff who supported about 650 customers – with a focus on small to medium sized businesses.

The Melbourne-based business saw nearly a billion dollars of lending added to its portfolio during Covid-19 as small business customers turned their backs on the big banks out of frustration and lack of access to staff, Judo said.

6. GO1

This Brisbane-based unicorn is valued at $1.3 billion and offers the largest curated e-learning library from top training providers in a single subscription.

Customers include the University of Oxford, Suzuki, Asahi and Thrifty, with over 3000 companies using the provider and more than 1.5 million users overall able to access over 170,000 courses.

It has offices across the world including the US, South Africa, Vietnam, UK and Malaysia.

Its large investor base including M12, the venture capital arm of Microsoft, Madrona Venture Group, Salesforce Ventures and SEEK.

Originally published as The Aussie ‘unicorn’ companies worth more than $1b

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