More than a year later, the $20B Adobe-Figma deal is still stuck in regulatory limbo
In September 2022, Adobe dropped the bombshell news that it intended to buy Figma for $20 billion. It was a huge chunk of money for a startup that had recently been valued at half that amount, and it was a deal that would make investors and some Figma employees wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. But first it had to pass regulatory muster — and that has proven stubbornly difficult.
In fact, more than 13 months after the deal was announced, the two companies remain separate entities. A year is a long time in the tech world. Figma hasn’t been idly waiting for its corporate suitor and has continued to work on the platform, hiring 500 new people since the deal was announced for a total of 1,300 employees today.
The company also hosted the Config conference in June, attracting more than 8,000 attendees to the event where it announced a new developer mode, putting the tool in front of developers for the first time. With developers representing a new area for both companies, it could make Figma even more attractive to Adobe, should the deal go through.
Regardless, when the deal was announced, there were immediate questions about whether Adobe was taking a key competitor off the market using blunt force market power, or if it was filling a missing piece in its product line. It would be up to the regulators to make that determination, however, and they immediately went to work. Adobe and Figma representatives have spent good chunks of the last year on airplanes going to talk to various regulatory bodies, trying to convince them that the deal is, in fact, not anticompetitive.
While the two companies can’t speak to each other — they both operate entirely independently throughout this process — it didn’t stop Figma from writing a blog post exploring what it might look like if the two companies were together, especially since in the interim, Adobe added Firefly, its generative AI offering, to the Creative Cloud fold.
At this point, it’s still up to the regulators, and those regulators are still reviewing the filings more than a year later, leaving the deal in suspended animation. How the various regulatory agencies decide will go a long way toward determining whether Adobe and Figma remain separate entities or finally come together with a ton of money changing hands.
What’s the holdup?
When a deal involves a company many perceive to be a competitor that has succeeded in capturing the hearts and minds of a significant market, and where a truckload of dough is changing hands, well, it’s going to get the attention of regulators in the U.S., the EU and the U.K. And that’s exactly what happened with this one.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.