Home » The big injustice Adobe, spent 20 billion to buy a web application

The big injustice Adobe, spent 20 billion to buy a web application

Unexpectedly, Adobe, which has always been abusive and instigating, actually spent 20 billion US dollars (about 141.3 billion yuan) this time to buy Figma, which became the largest acquisition in the company’s history.

How big is it?

According to public data, Adobe has made 56 acquisitions in history, of which 16 have disclosed the acquisition amount. The purchase of Figma cost more than $200 million more than the other 15 companies combined. Not only that, Adobe has also paid a price of $30 billion in market value decline.

It is worth mentioning that Adobe’s revenue in 2021 is $15.785 billion. In other words, Adobe’s annual revenue is not enough to buy a Figma. In the eyes of outsiders, Adobe has a kind of energy to break the boat this time, causing its stock price to fall by more than 20%.

So, what was the reason for Adobe to buy Figma at such a huge cost?

01:What does Adobe like about Figma?

The first time many people heard about Figma, it may have started from this “sky-high” acquisition. Before that, Figma was only popular in designer circles, far less well-known than Photoshop.

However, Figma, which was officially launched in 2016, is sweeping the design world at a speed like a “storm”. A valuation of $2 billion in 2020 and $10 billion in 2021. On the design tool selection website UX Tools, Figma took the championship in five categories including UI design, prototyping, Handoff, design systems, and even version control.

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In the mouths of fans, Figma is called “the next generation design artifact” and is one of the “most revolutionary” graphics editing applications. It can be summed up in one sentence: the future of the design circle belongs to Figma.

The success of Figma is inseparable from two core insights: universality and synergy.

In the traditional design process, you first need to download the design software to the computer and install it. When the team collaborates and delivers the work to Party A, each time it is necessary to save the file locally, and then send it to the other party. Every time I save it, I am careful, and I don’t dare to restart the computer easily when it gets stuck, for fear that the changes made so hard will be lost without saving the last restart. If the software is not installed on the other party’s computer, it must be exported to a picture or PDF format first. It can be said that a small computer holds the lifeblood of the project.

Figma, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It is a completely browser-based application that does not need to be downloaded and installed. It is universally applicable to all operating systems, whether it is Windows, macOS, or Linux. You can directly operate it by opening the browser.

All projects are saved in the cloud and can be viewed anytime, anywhere on the phone. When needed, just throw the shared link over there.

Another popular feature of Figma is online collaboration.

We need to understand one thing, immersing ourselves in design is only part of the designer’s work. In the entire product design process, designers need to communicate frequently with product managers/project managers (PM), developers, Party A and other demand parties, and make repeated revisions and adjustments to the works. This process is often very troublesome. Designers have to carefully mark the font, font size, line height, jump effects and other details on the design drawing, and then repeatedly open the software, modify the file, and click to save as “New Work (Change) ( change)…” to the version control server, notify the relevant personnel to review, and wait for new comments.

It’s cumbersome and time consuming.

In Figma, PM can give comments in real time, developers can directly view and copy the code of design elements, designers can make changes to new requirements immediately, and the effect can be seen at that time. A project can invite up to 500 people to participate, and up to 200 people can operate at the same time. With 200 mice moving around on the screen, it’s exciting to think about it.

Microsoft, Twitter, Github, Google, Airbnb, Uber… These well-known foreign companies that you are familiar with have also unanimously praised Figma. They not only really use it, but also develop plug-ins for Figma.

However, in the mouths of fans, Figma is called “the next generation design artifact” and is one of the “most revolutionary” graphics editing applications. It can be summed up in one sentence: the future of the design circle belongs to Figma.

Obviously, Adobe, which already owns many design tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, agrees with the above point of view. It is not only interested in the product of Figma, but also the “future” represented by Figma.

02:The acquisition of Figma at a high price is both helpless and inevitable

Adobe, which has almost monopolized the design industry, is constantly being challenged in the design industry.

In 2016, on the list of UX Tools website, Sketch surpassed Photoshop as the most popular design tool for designers.

The volume of the Sketch installation package is only 4% of that of Photoshop, and it provides a one-time buyout option for $99, and the buyout version can be used forever. You can’t use Photoshop without spending money, even with an annual subscription price of $239.88.

To meet the challenges of rising stars, Adobe launched XD in 2016. After several years of development, the market share today is only 35% of Sketch. Due to the lack of improvement, Adobe obviously lacked confidence when promoting XD, and called XD “the best alternative to Sketch” on its official website. And Sketch responded directly on the official website: Let me tell you why designers choose Sketch instead of Adobe XD.

Figma is even better. Not only does it not need to download and install, but it even provides basic functions for free, and only charges professional users and enterprise users. Analysts expect Figma to hit $400 million in revenue in 2022, with some of that revenue taking Adobe’s business directly. Even many companies, although still buying Adobe products for historical reasons, have turned to Figma because no one uses them.

It can be seen that Adobe’s reluctant acquisition of Figma is a helpless choice. But behind the helplessness, there is also its inevitability.

In 2013, Adobe ushered in the largest business adjustment in history, announcing that it would completely abandon the Creative Suite suite, which had been sold for 10 years and peaked in growth, and began to fully switch to the cloud subscription system, which caused great controversy at the time.

Most people think Adobe’s stud is too risky, and the most astute analysts on Wall Street also believe that the result of doing so will only further squeeze Adobe’s existing 13 million customers. Ten years later, however, Adobe Create Cloud users have more than doubled.

Adobe’s transformation has also been regarded as a “textbook” for enterprise transformation.

However, although the service is placed in the cloud, users still need to download bloated software to the computer before they can use it. At this time, Figma appeared.

Figma’s starting line is farther than Adobe’s. Founder and CEO Dylan Field’s initial vision was to make a fully operational cloud-based design software. In a chat with an investor in 2012, Field talked about the nascent WebGL technology at the time.

WebGL enabled the manipulation of 2D and 3D graphics in the browser, and Field, who was only 20 years old at the time, decided it was time to move design software from local computers to the cloud.

Compared with Adobe’s transformation, Figma’s concept is more advanced, and even the most forward-looking investors at the time were a little bit drummed. After all, when the browser opened multiple tabs, the computer fans would be crazy, not to mention the basics again. Add graphic design to this power-hungry behemoth.

Ten years later, however, the success of Figma has also been proven.

Obviously, the acquisition of Figma has become another big gamble in Adobe’s history. Similar experiences, similar concepts, and complementary capabilities make Figma the best successor to Adobe.

However, while Figma came ashore, Adobe went into the water.

03:Three challenges facing Adobe

Although Adobe has repeatedly emphasized its optimistic expectations for the acquisition, there are two questions that need to be answered by Adobe.

The first question comes from the capital market. What investors are concerned about is whether this transformation is too risky compared to ten years ago? With the current profitability of Adobe and Figma, can this be compared to buying and selling, and how can it be recovered?

The second question comes from users, that is, Adobe’s parents. What users care about is that Figma has been acquired, can it maintain its current reputation in the future? And this is the key to the answer to the first question.

Different from the attitudes of buyers and sellers, the attitude of the designer group towards this acquisition can be described as “hate” and “worry”. Radical users chanted “Figma is dead!” in the Figma community forums, using swear words on social networks. Even Adobe employees felt “disgusting” and resigned in anger.

What most designers worry about is that Figma, which was taken over by Adobe, will become part of another Adobe family bucket.

In the eyes of users, Figma and Adobe are completely two extremes: Figma is light, Adobe is bloated; Figma is trendy, Adobe is old-fashioned; Figma is close to the people, Adobe is arrogant; Figma is popular, Adobe will only irritate.

Designer Xiao Fu expressed that he is worried that Figma will not only not be free to use in the future, but may even introduce a series of payment strategies. In his view, this is Adobe’s “heirloom.”

Regardless of how Adobe submits exam papers in the future, Figma also faces a problem beyond business. Due to the existence of the U.S. sanctions list, in March 2022, Figma announced the ban on Chinese corporate users, and major manufacturers such as DJI and Huawei were cut off. Immediately afterwards, a local Chinese competitor announced that it would support importing Figma files.

At present, the cutoff of supply to Chinese companies has not had a substantial impact. Figma also made it clear that access to the account was only “temporarily” banned, and all files under the account are still retained. But if the US sanctions list is not eliminated one day, this issue will become a sword hanging over Chinese companies and Figma.

It can be said that Figma did not get any benefit from the cut off of supply, and it also gave a rare development space for Chinese local competitors.
“Blue Lake”, which is highly expected by Sequoia Capital, has received 5 rounds of financing of nearly 2 billion yuan, becoming the Chinese competitor of Figma with the most financing. In addition, Blue Lake also launched MasterGo, a collaborative product design tool, in 2018. Blue Lake said that its core users are designers, so the product pays more attention to the beauty of the interface and interaction, and believes in “beauty is justice”.

However, Hillhouse Ventures, Lanchi Ventures, SIG Haina Asia, and Source Code Capital are betting on younger products, “instant design”. The founding team said that the positioning of instant design is not the Chinese version of Figma, “but an independent product with a comprehensive experience that is not inferior to Figma.”

Wanxing Technology, a listed company that mainly provides consumer software, smart hardware and IoT home security solutions, after acquiring the old domestic online prototyping platform Modao in 2020, it will incubate the online design collaboration platform “Pixso” in 2021. , has just received a financing of nearly 100 million yuan.

Although it is called “Figma’s apprentice” by the media, it is obvious that domestic software of the same type does not want to be labeled as “Figma’s domestic replacement”. Whether it is emphasizing the tonality of designers or the attributes of product managers, it can be seen that each team is working hard to create differentiated characteristics, hoping to find a path that is more suitable for Chinese users and their own development.

Figma represents the trend of the future design platform, which is openness, cloud, and the vitality and cohesion driven by a good community atmosphere. If China is not to be left behind in the future, it also needs to develop similar products that can compete with Figma.

Now that Figma is in front, Chinese developers, let’s do our best.

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