2022-Adobe’s Figma acquisition is a $20 billion bet to control the entire creative market


Over the previous a number of years, Figma has constructed its identify as a forward-thinking and collaborative design platform and a formidable competitor to Adobe, the large within the artistic apps market. That rivalry ended on Thursday when Adobe introduced that it has struck a $20 billion deal to amass Figma.

The acquisition will permit Adobe to include Figma’s widespread design instruments into its widely-used portfolio of artistic apps. However the acquisition additionally implies that Adobe will as soon as once more be taking a serious competitor off the market and bringing it beneath its personal umbrella, to the dismay of many designers who depend on the device and are cautious of one other essential platform becoming a member of the corporate’s Artistic Cloud service. And so they have some extent: with Figma off the market, the listing of firms able to difficult Adobe’s empire simply obtained meaningfully smaller.

The Figma crew can have “full autonomy”

Adobe says the present plan is actually for nothing to vary. “I believe that acquisitions are solely accomplished nicely after they’re accomplished uniquely primarily based on the corporate and that you simply by no means observe a playbook,” Scott Belsky, Adobe’s chief product officer and EVP of Artistic Cloud, mentioned in an interview with The Verge. Belsky says the Figma crew can have “full autonomy.”

Figma’s independence is some extent they’ve been underscoring repeatedly; a LinkedIn post from Belsky and a blog post from Figma CEO Dylan Field each talked about that the plan is for Figma to proceed working autonomously. “The very last thing that anybody desires is to disrupt both of our roadmaps,” Belsky mentioned. Meaning no plans to convey Figma inside Artistic Cloud and no modifications to Figma’s pricing, based on Belsky.

If something, the earliest modifications is perhaps on Adobe’s aspect. Adobe has been winding down its funding in Adobe XD, its competing design platform for issues like apps and web sites, and XD customers could possibly be nudged over to Figma sooner or later, based on Belsky. “It was by no means as a result of we didn’t assume product design and improvement and this vertically built-in stack was an enormous alternative,” he mentioned. Proper now, Adobe has a “tiny crew” supporting XD for its current clients. “As soon as [the acquisition] closes, then we’ll determine how one can serve these clients, probably with Figma,” he mentioned.

Area is aware of that they need to earn clients’ belief. “We have now to ascertain that belief for Adobe and for Figma by being actually constant over time round what we do, the actions we’re taking, and displaying up for the group and doing what’s proper right here.”

A screenshot of Figma’s new dark mode over a starry background.

Figma’s recently-added darkish mode.
Picture: Figma

Adobe has a historical past of shopping for up a number of the greatest instruments within the artistic area, buying firms like Body.io, a video manufacturing collaboration device, and Behance, which lets folks showcase their artistic work. (Belsky first joined Adobe by this acquisition.) The corporate has purchased a lot of firms — even Photoshop was an acquisition. That makes the Figma buy all of the extra regarding for designers; one of many few notable challengers to Adobe has been swept up, that means Adobe will proceed to consolidate artistic app energy in a single location.

The acquisition isn’t essentially an antitrust concern, however it may nonetheless fall beneath scrutiny by regulators. “It actually appears like Adobe is in a dominant market place, and this acquisition would improve that dominance,” Matt Kent, a contest coverage advocate for the patron advocacy group Public Citizen, mentioned in an interview. However simply because Adobe is large doesn’t essentially imply that the merger violates the legislation, he mentioned. 

“Any builders in that group being acquired by Adobe will probably be stifled”

Competing builders had blended views on the acquisition. Affinity, which gives its own suite of creative software, thinks the acquisition may scale back innovation within the artistic app area. “Any builders in that group being acquired by Adobe will probably be stifled, as their goals are realigned to what’s good for Adobe. In the end that may solely scale back the selection accessible for creatives,” Ashley Hewson, managing director of Affinity developer Serif, mentioned in an emailed assertion.

Alludo, which makes the Corel suite of tools, took a extra constructive tone. “Whereas we don’t have a selected touch upon Adobe’s information, this transfer is certainly validating when it comes to what we’ve believed for a few years now — collaboration instruments are essential within the design world,” Prashant Ketkar, CTO and CPO of Alludo, mentioned in an emailed assertion. “We anticipate this motion will solely acquire momentum.”

Adobe’s additionally making this acquisition throughout a time when the regulatory our bodies are getting extra severe about cracking down on large tech mergers. The Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) filed to dam Meta’s acquisition of the corporate behind VR health app Supernatural in July, for instance, and sued to dam Nvidia’s now-scrapped acquisition of Arm in November. FTC spokesperson Betsy Lordan mentioned the FTC doesn’t touch upon proposed transactions, and Division of Justice spokesperson Arlen Morales declined to remark.

The Figma acquisition is predicted to shut someday in 2023, and it might want to go regulatory scrutiny earlier than it does. If that occurs, each firms can have quite a bit to show. In January 2021, Area tweeted that “our goal is to be Figma not Adobe,” and I requested him how he felt about that tweet now that he’ll quickly be part of Adobe. “I nonetheless stand by that tweet, and never as a result of I’ve any reservations about Adobe,” he mentioned. “We’re very targeted, all through all of our conversations about this acquisition, on [the] autonomy of Figma.”


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