Adobe just bought Figma for $20 billion. That's a lot of commas.
Adobe recently acquired Figma for $20 billion. That's 'billion' with a 'b'. This transaction was the largest purchase of a private VC-backed company in history, and left wall street and many artists scratching their heads.
Why did Adobe do this historic deal? And, what does it mean for motion designers? Let's dig in.
What is Figma?
Figma is a design app, plain and simple. But, the magic is in the way it works. It's one of the earliest browser-based design apps, and this means that you don't need a high-powered computer to run Figma. You just need a web browser, and all of the magic happens in the cloud. It's hard to overstate how big of a shift this is for the way software is designed, engineered, and used.
Being browser-based, Figma can more easily support 'multiplayer design,' meaning more than one designer can be working in a project at the same time. It's a pretty wild experience if you've never seen it before.
Figma is (currently) primarily used in the UI / UX space, but more and more motion designers are using it to create assets and styleframes for their projects.
Why does Adobe think Figma is worth $20 billion?
If you're going by standard business metrics, Adobe is overpaying for Figma. However, if you consider that Figma is one of the few companies on earth that's actually a threat to Adobe's business model, the purchase price makes more sense. Consider:
- Figma has a free tier that is incredibly usable
- Figma is browser-based, and has an engineering head-start that would be difficult to overcome at this point
- Figma's market share in the product-design space was 63% and growing as of 2021
- Adobe XD is not browser-based, and is losing market share every day to Figma
If you're Adobe, you're faced with a tough choice... you either invest heavily to try and reach feature-parity with Figma, or you acquire them and pay dearly. I think Adobe made the right choice.
Do designers need to worry about this deal?
Adobe has acquired many companies over the years, and some of those deals haven't worked out so well for users... anyone remember Flash? But, recently, Adobe has a much better record of integrating companies they buy and creating value for both users and shareholders. Consider Frame.io, purchased last year for $1.3 billion. Adobe integrated Frame.io into both Premiere and After Effects in short order, and provided a very useful free tier to all Adobe CC users. This is the kind of move that can only be made by a company that has the enormous scale of Adobe, and I think we'll see similar things come from this Figma deal.
So, no, I don't think designers need to be particularly worried about this deal. I could be wrong, and if so I will publicly eat 10 olives on camera.
What does this mean for motion designers?
For now? Not much. But, in the next 12-18 months I'd expect Figma's adoption to increase dramatically as Adobe puts resources behind it, and integrates it into its existing ecosystem. I would love to see a bullet-proof Figma > AE integration, and extended animation capabilities inside of Figma.
But, mostly, I'd love to see Adobe take a page from Figma's playbook, and add browser-first design principles to some of it's design apps, and to focus on performance. Figma is an incredible technical marvel, and if even half of its ingenuity makes its way into other Adobe apps, I think we all win.
Either way, this is a big deal, and I'm excited for it.
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