Adobe’s latest acquisition pisses me off

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We have heard the story time and time again. A new start-up innovates and finds its place in the industry, only for it to be eaten up (i.e bought by an engorged corporation), dissected, and dissolved so it never sees daylight again. I am truly terrified of this happening to Figma.

Recently, Adobe — which pioneered the modern design world with the invention of the PDF and now commonly known for design platforms such as Photoshop and Illustrator — announced its acquisition of competing design platform Figma for approximately $20 billion in cash and stock.

As someone who has utilized Figma for multiple projects, Figma is a dream. Its real-time collaboration capabilities, fast performance, and intuitive, powerful interface make the support and popularity among designers around Figma almost expected. In comparison, Adobe’s version of Figma is Adobe XD, which designers have critiqued ffor its lackluster and frustrating user experience as well as its somewhat limited use cases.

To be frank, I haven’t had the chance to personally try out Adobe XD. Why? The reason is solely because Adobe seems to love throwing subscription paywalls after a week-long free trial across all of its Creative Cloud platforms while Figma offers free usage for students and educators. Figma welcomes students into the design world while giving the tools and power to create whatever they want. It is because of this that Figma has a dedicated and loyal student and young designer following: the people who also have the most to lose during this acquisition.

There is some hope, however. When Adobe acquired TypeKit, now known as Adobe Fonts, sync limits, “web-only” fonts, and domain limits were all removed. In 2018, Adobe bought e-commerce service Magento, and simply changed its name to Adobe Commerce. For the most part, it seems to be intact. No major changes seem to have been made about its payment structure, free options, or services. So clearly, there is some good news. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore the possibility that Adobe can make impactful changes and ruin Figma as we know it.

While Adobe and Figma insist that they won't increase prices, I am skeptical. Adobe paid 50 times Figma’s expected 2022 revenue. Even though that is about three percent of what they will make this year, according to a Forbes article, the company will expect to not only make back this investment but profit even more. This leaves us with two possibilities. Best case is that Figma is supplemented with the resources Adobe can provide without getting bogged down. Worst case, Adobe bleeds Figma dry. Which scenario will we end up with? That’s up to Adobe to decide.

This is the key problem with tech monopolies, isn’t it? If Adobe insists on adding paywalls, what can we do? Use Microsoft Paint? Or do we just suck it up and wait until the next Figma-like platform comes out. Yes, there are other alternatives. But it is nonetheless disappointing how designers will now have to actively choose whether to use a janky software or have Adobe shoved down their throats one way or the other.