Design software's circle of life
Issue 110: Reactions to Adobe acquiring Figma and why it'll be okay
There was a merge in the Ethereum blockchain that occurred this past week. However, it was another merge that stole tech headlines—the acquisition of Figma by Adobe. If there was a top-five list of events that would spin Design Twitter into utter chaos, this would be number one.
When the disruptors join what they sought to disrupt or become rivals, it’s hard to process:
Figma joining Adobe
Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors
Ahmed Johnson joined the Nation of Domination
Sting joining NWO
Johnny Damon joining the New York Yankees
Anakin Skywalker joining the Sith
When a beloved product gets acquired, there are bound to be reactions of sadness. A passionate community that grew with the product now feels at a loss with the news of the acquisition. It’s natural to feel this way, and I’m here to tell you it’ll be okay. It’s the circle of life.
Certainly, you can debate the details of Adobe’s business model, but if there was a company that was going to acquire Figma, I’m glad it’s Adobe. Many beloved tools such as Form and Pixate have been killed off after Google acquired them. It’s in Adobe’s best interest to keep Figma independent and this move sparks thousands of future moments for design tools. Finally, the software with a free offering they haven’t had in the past.
The acquisition validates design software
The fact that Adobe, a company with more than four decades of creative tools experience felt like they had to acquire Figma validates the power of software development. A rising tide raises all ships, and Figma's news suddenly reminded the market of the value of the design and software created to support it. If it wasn't for Figma willing to take on the status quo in Adobe, it might not have invoked other design tools to emerge such as Excalidraw.
Design software will come and go
When I’m teaching design, the first lesson I tell students is the importance of understanding the primitives and foundations of design—not be dogmatic about specific design software, regardless of how much you love them. BTW, the second lesson is not to listen to any thought leaders on Design Twitter (don’t meet your heroes). There are tools I love and have such a reverence for—ones that truly shaped me as a designer. The same way Thor is not the god of hammers is exactly how to design software doesn't define who we are as designers. As much as we love them, design tool software will come and go. When one declines, another will rise—the exact same way Figma became what it is today.
I recently read a Medium post by Amanda Luedeke, Writing Tools of the Past, Present, and Future, and much of it resonates with design. Design tools will continue evolving and fluctuate. What won't change is the methods and consideration of getting to such outcomes. If Figma for some reason ever faded away, new design software will rise up and take its place. People hate to admit there was once a time the masses in design thought nothing would replace the power of Sketch and InVision, and Figma proved it's possible.
The spark Figma ignites
Figma didn't shut down or die. It was acquired. Did I wish Figma would have stayed their course independently? Without a doubt. I've been a massive fan of Figma since we became an early customer when our Product Design and Research team at One Medical made the leap of faith from Sketch. Despite how much I wish for a different course for Figma, I have no idea what went into the considerations on the decision. The folks at Figma and Adobe are incredibly smart and know it's more deeply considered than most of us.
I understand why people may feel sad about the news. I have no idea how the acquisition of Figma will play out under the ownership of Adobe. It's easy to play armchair quarterback on news like this and only time will tell. I am excited that a liquidity event like this likely will create future investors who care about design, and that's a win for everyone. I'm certain this event will spark more innovation in the space of design software.
Perhaps it'll fund the next Figma, and a new disruptor will emerge.