Nottingham business bought

Canva acquires Affinity parent Serif

The team behind Affinity have all been kept on
The team behind Affinity have all been kept on

Graphic design platform Canva has acquired Serif, the parent company behind the Affinity creative software suite for professional photo editing, illustration, graphic design, and page layout.

Canva said the acquisition, which was effective from Tuesday (26 March), significantly bolsters its vision to build “the world’s most comprehensive suite of visual communication tools”, with the integration of Affinity’s professional design software unlocking “the full spectrum of designers at every level and stage of the design journey”.

“Visual communication is now ubiquitous in the workplace and investing in strategies that enhance our B2B offerings is core to the future of our business,” said Canva COO Cliff Obrecht, the Australian entrepreneur who co-founded the business with Melanie Perkins and Cameron Adams in 2013.

“From sales and marketing, to brand and creative teams, the need to create effective and engaging visual content is on the rise. The Affinity team comes with an incredible calibre of talent and technology, and we’re delighted to welcome them to Canva as we enter our next phase together.”

Founded in 1987, Serif employs around 90 people – all of who have joined Canva – and is based in Nottingham.

Affinity Designer, the first Affinity app, was released in 2014. Affinity Photo followed in 2015, while Affinity Publisher was launched in 2019.

More than three million global users now use the tools for photo and vector editing tasks and to create everything from complex multi-layered graphics to detailed technical diagrams, art and illustration, logos, mock-ups, documents, magazines, and more.

Affinity products are subscription-free and require a one-off payment to access a perpetual license. They are available in Windows, macOS, and iPadOS versions.

Canva, meanwhile, is now used by more than 175 million people across 190 countries and in more than 100 languages. The acquisition of Affinity will increase Canva’s offering of design tools by expanding into the professional design market.

“Since the inception of Affinity, our mission has been to empower creatives with tools that unleash their full potential, fostering a community where innovation and artistry flourish,” said Ashley Hewson, CEO of Affinity.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to challenge the status quo, delivering professional-grade creative software that is both accessible and affordable. Canva’s commitment to empowering everyone to create aligns perfectly with those values. We couldn't be more excited about becoming part of the Canva family and can't wait to see what we will achieve together.”

In a supporting blog post, Hewson added: “We have to say that selling Serif was not on our minds at all, but when Canva contacted us (only a couple of months ago!) there was something about it which just felt right.

“Product-wise it is a great fit as Canva do not have professional design tools as part of their offering, and we do not have any cloud or collaboration as part of ours.”

On future pricing models, he said: “If we do offer a subscription, it will only ever be as an option alongside the perpetual model, for those who prefer it. This fits with enabling Canva users to start adopting Affinity. It could also allow us to offer Affinity users a way to scale their workflows using Canva as a platform to share and collaborate on their Affinity assets, if they choose to.”

Affinity marks Canva’s latest Europe-based acquisition, joining Flourish (2022), Kaleido (2021), Smartmockups (2021), Pexels (2019), and Pixabay (2019). Canva opened its first European headquarters in 2023, based in London.

Read Printweek’s Best of British feature about Serif here.