Because Design Professionals Need Fewer Software Choices and Less Competition, Adobe Will Acquire Figma


Today, Adobe announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Figma, a leading web-first collaborative design platform, for approximately $20 billion in cash and stock. The combination of Adobe and Figma will usher in a new era of collaborative creativity.

Why am I reminded of Adobe’s 2005 acquisition of Macromedia? In the decade after, Adobe shored up its dominance in the creative software industry. There have been some apparent benefits, like a more comprehensive and integrated suite, but I question whether a company is required to become a monolith to achieve that.

Enter Figma. I do not love the software; I much prefer a fully native Mac app like Sketch to Figma’s slower and multitasking-unfriendly web app. But everyone has different preferences and I get its appeal, especially since it is cross-platform. Its growth created real competition to Adobe’s products for the first time in a while because it is focused on vector editing tools for digital applications. Web and application designers loved it. It was certainly a better option than trying to design user interfaces in Photoshop or Illustrator, and it pushed Adobe to try to compete by building XD.

That was a good thing, too. If you just look at feature checklists, you could argue Adobe still innovated in its post-Macromedia years. But most any user of the company’s products can tell you the reality: Adobe Creative Cloud is a suite of bug-infested, unreliable, bloated, and slow software that makes being a designer uniquely frustrating, and it is downright embarrassing how few choices we have for tools in this industry. While I have already mentioned most of the big vector editor and UI builder choices, there are a couple of non-Adobe options for raster editing, like Acorn and Pixelmator; Affinity makes a comprehensive suite of tools, too.

This industry still, by and large, relies on Adobe’s products. Now that it has eliminated a distracting competitor, it can get back to doing what it is best at: making its customers’ jobs harder through less dependable software.