Meet the 30-year-old man who is about to sell his company to Adobe for $20 billion

Meet the 30-year-old man who is about to sell his company to Adobe for $20 billion
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Almost overnight, this 30-year-old has become the tech world’s newest titan and is poised to become one of the world’s youngest billionaires.

Dylan Field, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Figma, is on the cusp of an epic windfall after Adobe

Announced plans to acquire his company for $20 billion this week. Field will remain with Figma (which makes collaborative design tools) and reportedly owns a sizeable stake in his company. Forbes estimated it at 10%, meaning Field could be looking at a $2 billion payday from the deal. (Field declined to provide details of his ownership interest with MarketWatch.)

Regarded as an upstart rival to Adobe, Figma describes itself as a “design platform for teams building products together”. Its distinguishing factor is that it is cloud-based, which has made its products especially valuable for designers and other workers physically separated from one another during the pandemic, or those continuing to collaborate in today’s hybrid work environment.

And Adobe clearly saw value in the Figma model. The acquisition is said to be the largest in Adobe history, though some Wall Street analysts have questioned if you paid too much. (And what is more, Adobe shares fell for their worst week since 2002 in light of the news). But Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen warned investors that the deal “will significantly expand our market reach and opportunity.”

Either way, it’s a huge leap for Field, who started Figma with Evan Wallace, a former Brown University classmate, in 2012. a wall street journal story He noted, Field lived in a ramshackle San Francisco apartment just four years ago and bought $1 cups of coffee on the way to work.

Last night I took a small sip of champagne.

— Dylan Field, co-founder and CEO of Figma

On Friday, MarketWatch caught up with Field, who grew up in Northern California, to learn more about the Adobe deal and how it will change his life. This is some of what he had to say (some comments have been edited for brevity and clarity):

On how Field’s life can change with Adobe Pay: While Field didn’t discuss the details of what he stands to gain from the deal, he doesn’t deny that he stands to benefit significantly. He says that he isn’t thinking of much beyond his company and the next chapter for him. “Right now, I’m totally into Figma and trying to figure out how to make Figma successful, especially in this new context,” he says. In other words, he still doesn’t plan to colonize Mars with his riches. to Elon Musk.

But Field admits he’s still pretty excited about last week’s events. “It’s great though, I’m not going to lie,” he says.

EITHERHow did you celebrate the deal? Field is known to love wine, but says he hasn’t had much to drink in recent weeks because he’s been so focused on his work and business. However, he says, “I had a little sip of champagne last night” with the figma team.

On Figma’s value proposition: In a nutshell, it’s about the ability to work together through the cloud. “We can make it collaborative,” Field says of the tools Figma offers. “So if you’re a designer and I’m an engineer, we no longer have to exchange files back and forth… We can edit together. We can improvise the ideas of others. That collaboration was important to many of our customers.”

A newer product that Figma offers is FigJam, which Field describes as a “whiteboard solution”. The thinking behind this, explains Field, is “that we can help people move from ideation and brainstorming to the design process and all the way to production.”

On why and how the Adobe deal came about: Field notes that when he co-founded the company there was serious doubt about whether the world had enough designers to make Figma a viable entity. “We weren’t sure there was a big enough market here,” he says. But with the world becoming more digital, and by extension taking more and more advantage of digital design tools, the design community has flourished and the need for good design has become ubiquitous. “Every company has to worry about design,” he says.

“Adobe’s mission is creativity for all, Figma’s mission has been to make design accessible to all. Those are two sides of the same coin in some respects.”

— Dylan Field, co-founder and CEO of Figma

Hence Adobe’s desire to take advantage of what Figma offers its clients as a cutting-edge digital design platform, explains Field. And not only take advantage of it, but also help Figma expand its platform by adding different tools and capabilities, not only for the designer audience, but also for the broader creative audience. “That got us really excited, because it accelerates the impact that we already wanted to have, but it also scales the impact,” says Field.

On the image of Figma as an “Adobe killer”: Yes, Figma has been described like that. and field once even tweeted, “Our goal is to be Figma, not Adobe.” Field says he still maintains the observation that the two companies are different in certain ways, though he also notes that they ultimately share similar goals: “Adobe’s mission is creativity for all; Figma’s mission has been to make design accessible to everyone. Those are two sides of the same coin in some respects.” He adds that both companies are aligned “around craft and community” and “there’s a lot we can do together.”

On Field’s views on education: Much has been made of the fact that Field did not graduate from college: he attended Brown University, but left in his junior year to start his business career (he was accepted into a scholarship program run by financier Peter Thiel). . Field says he’s not anti-college per se. “I care a lot about learning, and (going to) a university can be a great way to do it in a structured way.” But he also says there are other ways to gain knowledge, pointing to online courses that are readily available. As a result, Field finds it difficult to understand that many companies still require college degrees from applicants. “I think they’re missing out on a lot of talent,” he says.

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