Almost overnight, the 30-year-old became the newest titan of the tech world 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 verge of an epic turnaround after Adobe.
announced plans to buy his company for 20 billion dollars this week. Field (which makes co-design tools) will remain with Figma and reportedly has a significant stake in the company. Forbes 10% rated it, which means Field could be looking at a $2 billion salary from the deal. (Field declined to provide details of his ownership stake with MarketWatch.)
Considered an upstart competitor to Adobe, Figma describes itself as “a design platform for teams building products together.” Its differentiating factor is that it’s cloud-based, which makes its products especially valuable for designers and other workers who are physically separated from each other during the pandemic, or those who continue to collaborate in today’s hybrid work environment.
And Adobe clearly saw the value in Figman’s model. The acquisition is said to be the largest in Adobe’s history some Wall Street analysts questioned paid too much. (What’s more, Adobe shares fell for their worst week since 2002 In light of the news.) But Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen advised investors that the deal would “significantly expand our reach and market opportunities.”
Either way, it’s a big leap for Field, who started Figma in 2012 with one-time Brown University classmate Evan Wallace. In a Wall Street Journal story He noted that just four years ago, Field was living in a shabby apartment in San Francisco and buying dollar cups of coffee on the way to work.
““I had a very small sip of champagne last night.” “
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. Here’s what he had to say (some comments have been edited for brevity and clarity):
On how Field’s life could change with payment from Adobe: While Field did not discuss the specifics of what he would gain from the deal, he did not deny that he would benefit significantly. He says he doesn’t think much beyond his company and its next chapter. “Right now, I’m just interested in Figma and trying to think about how to make Figma successful, especially in this new context,” he said. In other words, he is not yet planning to colonize Mars with his wealth for Elon Musk.
But Field admits he is still reeling from the events of the past week. “I’m not going to lie, although it’s pretty cool,” he says.
HeHow I recorded n contract: Field is known to love wine, but says he hasn’t been drinking much in the past few weeks because he’s focused on his work and deals. Nevertheless, he shares with the Figma team, “I had a very small sip of champagne last night.”
About Figma’s value proposition: Simply put, it’s all about the ability to work together through the cloud. “We can do it collaboratively,” Field says of the tools Figman 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 deceive each other’s minds. This cooperation was important for many of our customers.”
A newer product offered by Figma is FigJam, which Field describes as a “whiteboard solution.” The idea behind it, Field explains, is that “we can help people move from ideation and brainstorming through the design process and into production.”
On why and how the Adobe deal came together: Field notes that when he co-founded the company, there was a serious question of whether there were enough designers in the world to make Figma a viable entity. “We weren’t sure there was a big enough market here,” he says. But as the world has become more and more digital – and, in addition, more and more digital design tools have been used – the design community has flourished and the need for good design has grown everywhere. “Every company should be interested in design,” he says.
““Adobe’s mission is creativity for everyone, Figman’s mission is to make design accessible to everyone. In a sense, these are two sides of the same coin.”“
Hence Adobe’s desire to leverage what Figma offers its customers as an advanced digital design platform, Field explains. And not only using it, but also helping to extend the Figmaya platform by adding various tools and capabilities – not only for the designer audience, but also for the wider creative audience. “We’re really excited about this because it accelerates the impact we’re already trying to achieve, and it also scales the impact,” Field said.
About Figman’s “Adobe Killer” character: Yes, Figma is described as such. And Field he even tweeted once, “Our goal is to be Figma, not Adobe.” Field says he still stands by his observation that the two companies differ in certain respects, though he also notes that they ultimately share similar goals: “Adobe’s mission is creativity for all; Figman’s mission has been to make design accessible to all. In a sense, these are two sides of the same coin.” He adds that both companies align “around craftsmanship 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 didn’t graduate from college—he attended Brown University but dropped out during his junior year to pursue an entrepreneurial career (he was accepted into a fellowship program run by financier Peter Thiel). Field says he’s not anti-college arbitrarily. “I really care about learning, and (going to) university can be a great way to do that in a structured way.” But he says there are other ways to acquire knowledge, pointing to readily available online courses. As a result, Field finds it difficult to understand that many companies still require a college degree from applicants. “I think they’re missing out on a lot of talent,” he says.
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