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Charli Marie

Will Adobe ruin Figma? That's the twenty billion dollar question

published11 days ago
6 min read

Did you hear, Reader? Adobe is buying Figma 😱

For twenty BILLION dollars 😱😱

The announcement sent design Twitter into a frenzy and there was a lot of thoughts, concerns and memes shared. In this issue I want to give a little overview of the situation and share my take on the matter.

Here’s the facts

  • Figma has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Adobe. That means this sale hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to (they’re expecting the deal to be completed in 2023).
  • Adobe is committed to operating Figma autonomously. Figma’s CEO, Dylan Field, is staying on as CEO with everyone at Figma continuing to report to him. Dylan himself will report to Adobe’s President of Digital Media Business (who, incidentally, first joined Adobe when Macromedia was acquired in 2005).
  • Figma will remain free for education, with Dylan saying an agreement with Adobe on that was a “critical part of our conversations”.
  • But it’s also a fact that we don’t know for sure what changes might come to Figma products or pricing in the future (I’m sure not even the Figma team can predict this yet!).

Sooo… should we panic?

I won’t lie. When I first heard about the acquisition, this was my initial reaction:

And I wasn’t the only one. Here’s a few tweets that sum up the general sentiment I heard.

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Andy Budd
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@andybudd
September 15th 2022
496
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3,785
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jud
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@judson
September 15th 2022
1
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66
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While digital designers who began their career in the past couple of years may have gotten started in a modern tool like Figma or Sketch, those of us who have been in the industry a while have had a lot of experience with Adobe products crashing on us or just generally being a pain in the butt to use.

To be fair to Adobe, we were often wrangling with a tool to use it in a manner it wasn’t originally intended (remember designing websites in Photoshop?) but it’s also widely known that Adobe tools tend to be quite bloated, and that their pricing practices are… questionable… with high fees and difficult-to-cancel contracts.

Figma is absolutely CRUSHING Adobe’s digital design tool XD, and I’d guess that Figma essentially owns the largest marketshare in the tech industry. Adobe couldn’t beat them. So they invited Figma to join them (and, let’s be honest, made them an offer that they and their investors couldn’t refuse).

The biggest concern the community has is that access to Figma will either be through Creative Cloud, or that Figma will need to scrap the Free plan to follow Adobe’s pricing model (XD is $9.99/month as a standalone app). In this announcement post, Figma’s CEO promised the education plan will remain free, but what about the designers who aren’t in an education program but are teaching themselves or trying to get their first freelance clients?

Anna shared a great thread on why it’s so important that Figma’s free plan remains:

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Anna 4erepawko Mészáros
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@4erepawko
September 15th 2022
340
Retweets
1,362
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The other main concern is that we’ll see the gloriously easy-to-use UI of Figma become bloated with Adobe-like features and connections to other Adobe tools.

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Anton Lapko
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@anronkai
September 15th 2022
5
Retweets
110
Likes

On a more positive note…

On the bright side, this acquisition is HUGE for the digital design community. The fact that our industry has so much potential and room for growth that Adobe saw $20B of value in it is mind blowing.

And I am truly happy for the folks at Figma getting this win. I first met Dylan at a Figma meetup in London and he’s one of the most down-to-earth CEO’s I’ve ever known. He’s even the reason that my YouTube channel is sponsored by Figma! So I fully agree with Josh on this:

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Josh Miller
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@joshm
September 15th 2022
134
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1,435
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Adobe has a ton of resources. The best case scenario is that Figma get to use these resources to scale up the great work they’re already doing, to dream even bigger and execute even faster. (Imagine a Config conference at the size of an Adobe Max!? That’d be the most epic conference in the world.)

Lastly, we’ve been focussing a lot on what this acquisition will do for Figma, but let’s consider what it might do for Adobe (other than like… make them relevant in the digital design space again). Maybe Fons will be right!

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Fons Mans
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@FonsMans
September 15th 2022
18
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299
Likes

Honestly, if Adobe are smart this will be the result of the acquisition. And in Adobe’s announcement post there are hints to this.

Figma’s web-based, multi-player capabilities will accelerate the delivery of Adobe’s Creative Cloud technologies on the web, making the creative process more productive and accessible to more people.

As buggy and bloated as they are, Adobe software is still the go-to for print design work (something that us marketing designers often need to contend with still). If Adobe can learn from Figma’s UX and collaboration capabilities it’ll be a win for everyone who does print/layout work alongside digital design work, as Lin suggested.

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Lin Zagorski Latimer
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@lin_zagorski
September 15th 2022
0
Retweets
1
Likes

What do YOU think?

Ultimately, I think we have to wait and see. Now is not the time to jump ship to another tool (unless your hatred of Adobe is so strong that you’ll majorly inconvenience yourself in protest…but let’s not be dramatic).

The Figma team have been serving the community well for many years and from the way they’ve launched features and products I didn’t even know I needed to improve my process, I’m keen to trust them on this.

I am fearful they’ll eventually be wrapped up in big corporate politics or processes, but I also trust that their vision is strong, that Adobe recognise that, and that they’ll continue to make decisions that work towards that vision. Community has always been a key pillar for Figma, and I’ve appreciated the way the team have shown up to answer questions and talk through concerns with designers.

Let’s take a pulse on what y’all think though. Vote by clicking on the option below that best represents your thoughts:

🥳 I’m super excited about this! It’s gonna be great!

🙂 I don’t love this, but I’m hopeful it will turn out well!

😕 I’m disappointed and concerned.

😡 I’m pissed. This really sucks!

😐 I don’t get what all the fuss is about.

I’ll report back on the results in the next issue.

Inside Marketing Design season three launches on the 21st

That’s right folks, the show dedicated to giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how marketing and brand design teams function in different tech companies is back for another season starting this Wednesday. This season will feature guests from Pitch, Zapier, Sketch, monday.com and many more interesting companies so use the links below to subscribe on YouTube or a podcast player so that you get the new episodes right away.

While we’re on the topic of Figma, you could watch this episode from last season where I interviewed Figma’s tiny (at the time) brand design team to give you a taste of what to expect from the show.

Enjoy this issue? Click the heart to let me know!

💜

Side note: If you, or the company you work for, would like to sponsor an issue of the Dispatch and get your product/event/tool in front of an audience of creative professionals, check out my sponsor page for more info about how to do that.

Have a good week ahead,