Canva’s Rap Battle at Enterprise Event Sparks Viral Buzz and Mockery


You might have thought the hottest rap battle of the summer was between Kendrick Lamar and Drake. But it was actually between Canva and an enterprise CIO.

During the Canva Create event last week, Canva introduced its new enterprise offerings. This would have gone largely unnoticed if not for an unexpected rap battle 45 minutes into the presentation.

Roger Coles, a graphic design content creator, took the stage, flanked by a team of dancers. As one dancer performed backflips, Coles moved forward and began his rap, summarizing the presentation’s key points — but wait! A challenger appeared!

“Hold up sir!” exclaimed a woman who stepped out from the crowd, mic in hand, dressed more business-like than the rest in her navy suit. She portrayed a concerned CIO from a large enterprise company, questioning Canva’s security offerings.

“Logs, SCIM, SSO? Can you really tell me that there’s very much control?” she rapped, while a large screen behind her animated her words.

Coles responded, “You can even manage automated licensing, compliance, there’s privacy.”

“I can see, but is it likely for you to integrate all of our systems easily?”

“Actually, matter of fact, you see, we can integrate ’em all even Slack, believe!”

By now, the CIO had dropped her stern facade, smiling and dancing with Coles. They soon joined together for the chorus: “You’ve opened up my eyes/with Canva Enterprise.”

Social media was quick to mock the rap. When have terms like SSO and API ever been used in a rap performance?

“This is the most cringe s–t I have ever seen in my entire career,” commented Alex Cohen, a startup founder, in an X post that gained nearly 9 million views.

Some compared it to the HBO satire “Silicon Valley” or the “L to the OG” song from “Succession.”

But for Canva, that was exactly the point. Enterprise software is inherently dull, so why not liven it up a bit?

“We decided to be ourselves, do something different, and not take ourselves too seriously,” Canva founder and COO Cliff Obrecht wrote on LinkedIn. “Haters gonna hate.”

A Canva spokesperson told Truth Voices that more than 50 million people viewed the rap battle within 48 hours, resulting in a 2,500% increase in discussions about Canva Enterprise on social media.

Like it or not, we have to acknowledge that perhaps tech companies keep leaning into cringe because it works.

“A rap battle about enterprise security might not be for everyone, but for an enterprise software launch, it certainly got everyone talking,” the spokesperson said to Truth Voices.

Maybe people reacted so strongly against the Canva enterprise rap because corporate cringe is so pervasive these days.

Heather Morgan, who — along with her husband — pleaded guilty to laundering over $4 billion in Bitcoin from the Bitfinex exchange, performed as a rapper named “Razzlekhan.” Last year at Paris Blockchain Week, billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper sang a song about Bitcoin, rhyming “Satoshi Nakamoto” with “a token perfecto.” Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, Randi Zuckerberg, starred in a music video about crypto, transforming the Twisted Sister song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” into the crypto meme “We’re All Gonna Make It.” At one point, she declares, “Carpe your crypto diem.”

It’s amazing that these people opt to do this so publicly, but doing it in private can be even stranger. From the Frances Haugen whistleblower leaks, we learned a lot about Facebook, including an internal corporate benefits song amid incriminating documents about children’s safety. If you’ve never seen anyone rap about family planning and fertility benefits, now you have.

The Facebook benefits video serves as a time capsule. The company wasn’t called Meta yet, and the video transitions from Zoom, to in-person (with everyone but the singer wearing masks), to virtual reality.

“Now let’s move that thing and jump into the metaverse!” one performer sings, dragging out the last note on “-verse.” As he dons his Quest 2 headset, the camera pans to display a “Thank you essential workers!” sign in the background. (And once they enter the metaverse, naturally, the avatars have no legs.)

This is just a recent history of some of the most cringeworthy musical performances from the tech world. But perhaps we expected something else from Canva because it isn’t your typical Silicon Valley company.

The Silicon Valley strategy often prioritizes growth over profit, but as a company born in the Australian tech ecosystem, Canva was profitable before raising venture capital. And yes, paradoxically, that’s rare.

“We grew up in Perth, Western Australia, which is the most isolated city in the world,” Obrecht told Truth Voices a few years back. “We didn’t know what venture capital was.”

Canva may not have known what venture capital was when it was founded in 2012, but it’s integrated into the tech bubble enough to embrace corporate cringe.

Amanda Silberling
Amanda Silberling
Amanda Silberling covers social media and consumer tech. She has written about internet culture for Polygon, MTV, Business Insider, NPR, and the AV Club, and she co-hosts Wow If True, a podcast about going viral. Previously, she was a grassroots organizer, museum educator, and film festival coordinator. Based in Philadelphia, she holds a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app