Note: I was one of the first 100 users of Figma and use it daily for work. It’s a terrific tools and has inspired me for many years.
Adobe is a fascinating company. Almost all of their products have been acquired over the years. They are one of the last “desktop software” vendors, yet they still keep relevant decade after decade. I remember when Macromedia bought Allaire and then Adobe bought Macromedia. It affected ColdFusion, Flash, and several other important products. Adobe acquired Marketo a few years ago and today, Adobe purchased Figma and consolidated application design firmly in their own hands.
What will happen?
One important lesson from history is from Macromedia Fireworks. Fireworks was designed for early web design. It used a combination of vector and raster graphics and was gaining popularity compared to Photoshop (raster) and Illustrator (vector). It was easier to learn and faster to use. Adobe bought Macromedia to consolidate the market. They then had a choice of what do with the competitive Fireworks. The options were:
- Kill Fireworks right away
- Kill Illustrator and Photoshop instead
- Sell both but starve Fireworks of resources
They ended up doing #3. I loved Fireworks, but they didn’t want it competing with their flagship products. It never got any better and eventually was buried.
This time, Adobe has Adobe XD. Unlike previous products, this one was made to compete with Figma. It came second. It has done fairly well, especially internationally with their Photoshop/Illustrator installed base. However, Figma continued to grow, especially in Silicon Valley and within tech application design.
Adobe made the right choice by buying Figma for 20 billion. It would have been worth more later. The real choice is what they will they do with it . I wish I could be more optimistic, but I have seen this movie before.
My Sad Prediction
Things will be start small. They will tell all of the employees that nothing is going to change. They will start with email addresses to get everyone an adobe.com address. Then they will consolidate HR and Finance departments. It makes sense. There are redundancies.
Next, they will have Figma at the Adobe annual events. They will parade Figma around in an orgy of sparkle and good news. Figma’s own conference will last 1-2 more years and then they will be folded into Adobe’s own events.
Some of the original engineering and design talent will stay, but some will not feel comfortable in the giant Adobe machine. Their replacements will be Adobe people. The community sites will be merged into one system. The docs will also be moved to Adobe’s own system.
Finally, there will be internal budget and head count arguments. There will be attempts to consolidate engineering architectures. Adobe XD will want to get their hands on the multi-player technology. There will be infighting and political battles.
Someone will suggest merging the two programs and it will be attempted and fail. Eventually Figma will start to fall behind as XD is pushed as the preferred tool. Once Figma starts to fall behind, other options will start to become realistic.
Figma will die a slow death, fading away 1% per year.
I really hope everything I just predicted is wrong.
So what should I do?
Well, I could hang on for a while and maybe switch to XD once the multiplayer mode is as good. Alternatively, I can start looking at other new tools like Framer. I have always been interested in a tool that uses React components as first-class citizens.
For now, I will keep the faith and hope for the best. Maybe Figma wins the internal battles and they kill Adobe XD instead. One can hope.