Adobe Has Acquired You

Ben Moss.
September 19, 2022

There were mixed reactions on Thursday morning when Adobe announced it had acquired Figma.

Adobe Has Acquired You.

Excited press releases extolling the benefits of the “collaboration” followed the news. Dylan Field, founder and CEO of Figma, said: “There is a huge opportunity for us to accelerate the growth and innovation of the Figma platform with access to Adobe’s technology…”

The reaction from the design community has been a little less enthusiastic.

The problem for the design industry is that we’ve been here before. The acquisition of Macromedia followed a period in which Adobe tried to compete, failed to update its legacy code, lost the battle, and purchased the victor. You only need to look at the number of former Macromedia products in Adobe’s stable (zero) to see where Figma’s heading.

Figma has grown faster than any of its rivals in the last eight years. It is, of course, easier to grow when you start at zero. But there’s no denying Figma is a well-managed business and probably a good investment — if not worth the $20bn that Adobe reportedly paid.

Figma’s technology will give Adobe a leg-up in the collaborative design stakes, where it is clearly lacking. And Adobe’s resources will iron out some of the kinks in Figma, especially around typography, which is, if we’re honest, a bit hacky in places.

Adobe will provide a good home (we hope) for the Figma team, who will have the opportunity for career advancement in a much wider pool of development teams.

And, of course, Figma’s annual revenue will begin to trickle into Adobe’s vault — although it may be some time before it makes a dent in that $20bn hole.

But Adobe didn’t buy Figma for its business model, collaborative technology, team, or revenue stream. Adobe bought Figma’s users, all four million of them.

Adobe‘s approach to design software is upselling. It lures you in with free apps, and when you’re engaged, it integrates them with other parts of its ecosystem until suddenly, without meaning to, you’ve agreed to a Creative Cloud subscription.

Adobe was losing customers to a competitor. And more importantly, due to Figma’s free-use approach for individuals, it was losing young customers to a competitor. If it hadn’t bought Figma, Adobe would have needed to invest heavily in its own products while providing them to freelancers for free; that isn’t viable for a company with as many commitments as Adobe.

Yes, it is entirely accurate to say that competition drives innovation, and with fewer competing apps, there is less need for companies like Adobe to build high-quality, reliable products. However, it is also true to say that a lack of competition creates opportunities for new apps.

Somewhere out there, in a dorm room, or a basement, or on a kitchen table, someone is working on Adobe’s next big acquisition. It’s probably an AR design app; we need a few more of those.

For Figma, the next 12 months will be bright as Adobe works to retain the customers it’s bought. Within five years, you’ll probably need an Adobe Fonts subscription and a Photoshop plugin to use Figma. In ten years, it will be stored in a code archive next to Freehand.

Some designers will turn to Sketch; others will turn to Affinity; some will shrug and keep using Figma; others will shrug and keep using XD.

If an app is intrinsic to your design work, it’s probably time to switch apps. Your skills are transferable. I’ve switched apps many times; some I loved, some I just needed. I’ve never encountered an app that improved my work, although plenty have improved my mood while working.

Figma took a great approach and will continue to be great until it isn’t. Tools come and go, Adobe’s acquisitions team, it appears, is eternal.

Featured image uses photos by Afrika ufundi, Andrea Piacquadio, Andrea Piacquadio, Anna Tarazevich, cottonbro, fauxels, Ketut Subiyanto, Mikhail Nilov, Moose Photos, Pavel Danilyuk, Pavel Danilyuk, Polina Tankilevitch, Tima Miroshnichenko.

Ben Moss

Ben Moss has designed and coded work for award-winning startups, and global names including IBM, UBS, and the FBI. When he’s not in front of a screen he’s probably out trail-running.

Read Next

15 Best New Fonts, May 2024

In this month’s edition, there are lots of historically-inspired typefaces, more of the growing trend for French…

20 Best New Websites, May 2024

Welcome to May’s compilation of the best sites on the web. This month we’re focused on color for younger humans,…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, May 2024

This year, we’ve seen a wave of groundbreaking apps and tools. AI is reshaping the industry, enhancing productivity,…

Using AI to Predict Design Trends

Design trends evolve at a blistering pace, especially in web design. On multi-month projects, you might work on a…

15 Best New Fonts, April 2024

Just like web design, type design follows trends. And while there’s always room for an exciting outsider, we tend to…

3 Essential Design Trends, May 2024

Integrated navigation elements, interactive typography, and digital overprints are three website design trends making…

How to Write World-Beating Web Content

Writing for the web is different from all other formats. We typically do not read to any real depth on the web; we…

20 Best New Websites, April 2024

Welcome to our sites of the month for April. With some websites, the details make all the difference, while in others,…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, April 2024

Welcome to our April tools collection. There are no practical jokes here, just practical gadgets, services, and apps to…

How Web Designers Can Stay Relevant in the Age of AI

The digital landscape is evolving rapidly. With the advent of AI, every sector is witnessing a revolution, including…

14 Top UX Tools for Designers in 2024

User Experience (UX) is one of the most important fields of design, so it should come as no surprise that there are a…

What Negative Effects Does a Bad Website Design Have On My Business?

Consumer expectations for a responsive, immersive, and visually appealing website experience have never been higher. In…