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Profits almost halved at Envato in 2017-18 as the Melbourne-based digital assets marketplace with a $1 billion-plus valuation reported a 50 per cent rise in employee costs.
However, the profit dip did not stop Envato's majority owners, the Ta'eed family, declaring a $57.5 million dividend last October, and extending a $13 million retrospective profit share to current and former staff.
Founded by husband and wife Cyan and Collis Ta'eed and friend Jun Rung in a Bondi garage in 2006, Envato earned revenue of $US95.3 million in 2017-18 ($134 million in today's Australian dollars), up from $US82.3 million ($116 million) the year before, according to a financial report lodged on Friday with the corporate regulator.
However, its 2017-18 after-tax profit of $US9.5 million paled in comparison to 2016-17's $US17.6 million bottom line.
An outsized rise in employee benefits expenses explains most of the fall in profit. That line was $US37 million in 2017-18, up from $US24.9 million the year before.
Envato reported a global headcount of 393 at the end of 2017-18, up from 271 the year before, and flagged plans to hire another 100 people during the current financial year.
Collis Ta'eed said the spike in employee expenses related to the 2016 launch of Envato Elements, a $29-a-month all-you-can-eat subscription for its full range of digital assets, which include everything from WordPress templates to 3D printing renders.
However, he said that launch investment had paid off, with the 2018-19 accounts set to show Elements was earning $40 million annual recurring revenue.
The $57.5 million dividend, which followed dividends of about $5 million paid both in June 2018 and the year before, was a "closing out" of Envato's first phase, Mr Ta'eed said.
"We started a staff profit share in 2016-17, but then the directors thought: what about the first 12 years of the company?" he said.
"So we went back and did a catch-up staff profit share, and paid shareholders this big dividend. We're a private company with no intention of listing, so this was a good way of closing out our marketplace years, while still investing from the expenses line for the sharing economy, subscription-based years to come."
The retrospective profit share took 5 per cent of each year's pre-tax profits back to 2006, and allocated it to staff who worked that year. About $13 million went to about 1000 current and former staff.
"That was a fun email to send. I had former colleagues ringing to check it wasn't a phishing scam," Mr Ta'eed said.
Envato also pays 1 per cent of pre-tax profits to its charitable foundation. It paid corporate tax of $US4.4 million in 2017-18, down from $US7.7 sent to the Australian Tax Office the year before.
Envato's board consists of Collis Ta'eed, Cyan Ta'eed, Vahid Ta'eed (Collis' brother) and Fuad Ta'eed (Collis' father). The accounts reveal Jun Rung resigned from the board on February 1, 2018, but his Draconis Holdings retains 1600 of Envato's 10,000 shares.
Mr Ta'eed said Mr Rung, previously responsible for Enavto's design, was now pursuing his passion of making wooden furniture.
Collis and Cyan Ta'eed appeared on 2018's Financial Review Young Rich List, for people aged 40 and under, with a fortune of $428 million, based on the 68 per cent Envato shareholding of their investment vehicle, Garnett-Saunders.
However, add in the 16 per cent shareholding of older brother Vahid (held in the name of wife Munnever) and the family is set for a strong debut on the Financial Review Rich List to be published on May 31.
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