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The design people are raging all over the Twitters at the ultimate anti-Adobe tool being co-opted by Big Design

You already know about Adobe’s imminent acquisition of Figma, that cult-status browser-based collaborative design platform, for around $20 billion in cash and stock. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Figma launched six years ago. Designers use it universally to build high-fidelity mockups for interface design.
  • Figma made big waves very quickly as the Sketch-killer, which, in turn, was the big Adobe killer of its time.
  • Adobe has Adobe XD, its own interface design tool as part of its Creative Cloud suite of applications for the creative industries, but it never really took off. I don’t know why – it was amazing, then Sketch was way more amazing, and then Figma came along and redefined everything.
  • This is Adobe’s largest-ever acquisition. Adobe has no choice. Figma was eating their lunch and dinner — the acquisition is a move towards survival at a price that was too good to refuse.
  • Adobe’s stock went down $20 billion when they announced the Figma deal. But it’s still “a smart move for Adobe because it’s nearly impossible to make legacy software applications multi-user collaborative.” Here’s a great thread on why.

  • Design practitioners the world over have arguably the same story. They have typically evolved from using illegal copies of Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator to design products to then having little choice about being locked in to insanely expensive Creative Cloud subscriptions when Adobe switched to cloud-based tools. Tools like Figma and Canva have been enormously popular because they broke the monopoly, were lighter and faster, browser-based, and much, much cheaper. Canva has a surprising array of tools not enough people know about.

  • Also, did I mention: Figma is free. Here’s why that matters so much to the design economy.

  • Now a lot of those designers are outraged at what is being seen as a treacherous deal by Figma. Design Twitter has, unsurprisingly, gone up in flames.