In recent years, Figma has built its name as a forward-thinking and collaborative design platform and a formidable competitor to Adobe, the giant in the creative app market. That rivalry ended Thursday when Adobe announced it had struck a $20 billion deal to acquire Figma.
The acquisition will allow Adobe to incorporate Figma’s popular design tools into its widely used portfolio of creative apps. But the acquisition also means Adobe will once again take a major competitor from the market and bring it under its own umbrella, much to the dismay of many designers who rely on the tool and are wary of another crucial platform joining the Creative Cloud service of the company. . And they have a point: now that Figma is off the market, the list of companies that can challenge Adobe’s empire has shrunk significantly.
The Figma team gets “full autonomy”
Adobe says the current plan is essentially for nothing to change. “I think that acquisitions are only done well when they are made uniquely based on the business and you never follow a playbook,” said Scott Belsky, Adobe Chief Product Officer and EVP of Creative Cloud, in an interview with The edge. Belsky says the Figma team will have “full autonomy.”
Figma’s independence is a point they have repeatedly underlined; a LinkedIn message from Belsky and a blog post from Figma CEO Dylan Field both said the intention is for Figma to continue to operate autonomously. “The last thing anyone wants is to disrupt one of our roadmaps,” Belsky said. That means no plans to bring Figma within Creative Cloud and no changes to Figma’s pricing, according to Belsky.
If anything, the first changes may be on the part of Adobe. Adobe has phased out its investment in Adobe XD, the competing design platform for things like apps and websites, and XD users could be pushed to Figma in the future, Belsky said. “It was never because we didn’t think product design and development and this vertically integrated stack was a great opportunity,” he said. Right now, Adobe has a “small team” supporting XD for its existing customers. “Once [the acquisition] then we’ll figure out how to serve those customers, probably with Figma,” he said.
Field knows they need to win the trust of customers. “We need to establish that trust for Adobe and for Figma by being really consistent over time with what we do, the actions we take and standing up for the community and doing what’s right here.”
Adobe has a history of buying up some of the biggest tools in the creative space, acquiring companies such as Frame.io, a video production collaboration tool, and Behance, with which people can show their creative work. (Belsky first joined Adobe through this acquisition.) The company has bought a lot from companies — even Photoshop was an asset. That makes the purchase of Figma all the more worrying for designers; one of Adobe’s few notable challengers has been wiped out, meaning Adobe will continue to consolidate the power of creative apps in one place.
The purchase isn’t necessarily an antitrust issue, but it may still be subject to regulatory scrutiny. “It certainly appears that Adobe has a dominant market position, and this acquisition would increase that dominance,” Matt Kent, a competition policy advocate for consumer organization Public Citizen, said in an interview. But just because Adobe is big doesn’t mean the merger is against the law, he said.
“All developers in that community that Adobe acquires will likely be suppressed”
Competing developers had mixed feelings about the acquisition. Affinity that offers its own range of creative software, thinks the acquisition could reduce innovation in the creative app space. “Any developers in that community taken over by Adobe are likely to be suppressed as their goals are realigned with what’s right for Adobe. Ultimately, that can only reduce choice for creatives,” Ashley Hewson, president of Affinity developer Serif, said in an emailed statement.
Alludo, making the Corel suite of utilities, took on a more positive tone. “While we have no specific commentary on the news from Adobe, this move certainly confirms what we’ve believed for many years — collaboration tools are critical in the design world,” Prashant Ketkar, Alludo’s CTO and CPO, said in an emailed statement. -mail. “We expect this movement to only gain momentum.”
Adobe is also making this acquisition at a time when regulators are getting more serious about tackling major tech mergers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed to block Meta’s acquisition of the company behind the VR fitness app supernatural in July, for example, and sued to block Nvidia’s now-demolished acquisition of Arm in November. FTC spokesman Betsy Lordan said the FTC will not comment on proposed transactions, and Justice Department spokesman Arlen Morales declined to comment.
The acquisition of Figma is expected to close sometime in 2023 and will first need to be reviewed by regulatory authorities. If that happens, both companies have a lot to prove. In January 2021, Field tweeted that: “our goal is to be Figma, not Adobe,” and I asked him what he thought of that tweet now that he’s soon to be part of Adobe. “I still stand behind that tweet, and not because I have reservations about Adobe,” he said. “During all our discussions about this acquisition, we have been very focused on [the] autonomy of Figma.”