The $20 billion Adobe deal for San Francisco designer software company Figma shook the local tech industry a year after interest rate hikes, market volatility and mass layoffs were announced.
And the acquisition ranks among the largest acquisitions by a private venture-backed technology company in the U.S., according to PitchBook.
The deal comes as a major windfall for Figma’s 30-year-old founder and CEO, Dylan Field, who dropped out of college a decade ago to become a multibillion-dollar company. Field’s 10% stake in FIMA is now worth about $2 billion.
Field grew up in Sonoma County, where his parents told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat he was a math whiz at age 6, solving algebra problems. He later attended a STEM magnet school where he took college courses before moving on to Sonoma State. Brown University.
In college, Field worked as an intern at Flipboard and Linkedin and was spotted as an early talent before starting Figma with fellow computer science student Evan Wallace. Against his parents’ objections, Field dropped out of school at age 20 to participate in a Thiel fellowship program, where he received a $100,000 grant from PayPal founder Peter Thiel.
In the year A video filmed for the company in 2012 shows the 19-year-old Field demonstrating his desire to dominate Adobe’s design software.
“Training yourself to use Photoshop is a long and tedious process,” he said. What we’re trying to do is empower anyone to be creative by creating free and easy creative tools in the browser.
The Begma platform was first released in 2016 after years of development and is a web-based graphics and design software that allows multiple users to work together on the same project at the same time. During the pandemic, the company’s product usage jumped as teams looked for new ways to collaborate effectively.
Figma’s dynamic feature set and freemium pricing model have allowed it to steadily capture market share from Adobe, the longtime leader in design and graphics software. According to market research firm Slintel, Figma has around 31% market share in the collaborative design and prototyping category, more than double that of competitor Adobe XD.
Figma’s purchase price is double the $10 billion the startup raised in its 2021 Series E funding round and 10 times the $2 billion it raised in 2020. The cash and stock deal works out at around $40.20 per company. That’s more than 90 times the company’s $0.44 seed round shares.
The agreement was signed in It is expected to close in 2023 and, as part of it, will issue approximately 6 million additional restricted stock units to FIMA’s CEO and approximately 850 employees. These shares will be sold four years after the deal closes.
Field will continue to operate Figma when the deal closes and will report to David Wadwani, president of Adobe’s digital media business, Adobe said.
Outside of growing industry rival clamor, Adobe’s offering represents a big bet on Figma’s growth potential. Adobe reports that Figma is running at around $400 million in annual recurring revenue, and the purchase price represents 50 times that revenue number. According to Adobe, the acquisition is not expected to be positive for the company’s profits for up to three years.
Still, there’s open question whether the deal signals a shift in the industry’s fortunes, with many analysts urging caution.
“This is still one company, and there are still broader market pressures weighing on the venture,” said Kyle Stanford, senior VC analyst at Pitchbook.
But that one deal still means a lot of returns for some of the company’s early supporters. Data from the tech news website Fesma’s investor profile showed that windfall. Among the biggest winners are major VC firms such as Index Ventures, Greylock Partners and Kleiner Perkins, all of which have over 10% stakes in the company (worth around $2 billion).
One of the other major beneficiaries is LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who owns a 2.2% stake in the company (worth around $440 million).
John Lilley, who helped lead Greylock’s investment in FIMA and is a member of the company’s board, wrote a blog post after the acquisition announcement, laying out the company’s early doubts, including whether it would even be possible to build a web browser-based design program or if anyone could actually use it.
“While they could build an amazing technology and product, it was not clear that they could build a company to take their vision around the world,” he wrote. “Well, it’s clear now.”