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This was published 3 years ago
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Envato founder Collis Ta'eed says it's evolution, not revolution as he steps away from the design startup, which he started with his wife Cyan Ta'eed and built into a billion dollar company, to focus on social enterprises.
The rich lister announced last week he would hand over the day to day running of Envato, which he started 14 years ago from his garage, and stand down as chief executive at the end of 2020.
Mr Ta'eed said the exit was well timed, as Envato gets ready to post lifetime earnings for its creator community of $US1 billion ($1.4 billion) in November, after recording an $18.75 million operating profit for financial year 2020 and revenue of more than $200 million.
Cyan and Collis Ta'eed started digital assets marketplace Envato 14 years ago from their garage.
Envato lets users buy and sell creative assets, use design templates, learn skills and hire freelancers and the startup has more than 600 staff, who took home a 20 per cent profit share this year of $3.75 million.
Mr Ta'eed said Envato had achieved "a different type of startup success" that contrasted with the dominant model of fast growth and taking on lots of funding.
"We've always taken a bit more of a slowly, slowly approach," he said. "I tell people my spirit animal is a tortoise. I'm a bit more of a believer in long term consistency and really trying to build a business that's very sustainable, which in our industry can be challenging because things move really quickly."
Consistent with this approach, Mr Ta'eed said there were no plans for a sale of Envato or to list the company. He will remain as chairman of Envato.
"We are in this oddly privileged position that we don't need to do any of those things," he said. "We've been able to continue growing sustainably off our profits and it looks good for the future."
Envato has thrived during COVID-19 although Mr Ta'eed said the pandemic has been challenging for Envato's staff and him personally as he and his wife juggled running two businesses while looking after their young children during the lockdowns in Melbourne.
"We saw some real drops in the first couple of weeks but then broadly like the rest of our industry, it's been just this huge move of people to working online," he said. "It's meant that our platforms have been at record levels of traffic and sales".
Mr Ta'eed said he wants to establish a funding vehicle to finance social enterprises and focus on ethical chocolate company Hey Tiger, which Ms Ta'eed started three years ago.
"What Cyan has done is created a brand that really resonates with people and she's created a growth story tracking to a little past $3 million run rate at the moment," he said. "What it doesn't yet have is how that's going to translate into ongoing profitability and so we're working on our operations and on some of the financial rigour in the business."
Mr Ta'eed will take on the role of chief commercial officer or "chief chocolate officer" at Hey Tiger and said he is looking forward to getting back into an early stage startup.
"As a business gets larger you get further and further away from the thing," he said. "In a startup you are directly working on the thing, whatever the thing is, and then over time you're like, 'Okay now I'm managing the people who work on the thing'... it's just so far away it gets more and more esoteric," he said. " At a startup everybody does a bit of everything. They are all across everything and there is something really fun and magical about that time."
Ms Ta'eed said she looks forward to working with her husband again and the pair were "really ready" for new challenges.
"I've been at it for a while now, but Collis is excited about the idea of working on physical products that you can actually eat," she said.
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