The DOJ is reportedly getting ready to file suit to block the $20 billion Adobe-Figma deal announced last year on the grounds it is anti-competitive. Bloomberg first reported the story yesterday afternoon.
This comes on the heels of the EU announcing plans earlier this month to review the deal on competition concerns. The U.K.’s competition arm is also looking closely at the proposed acquisition.
In a statement, Adobe took exception with the idea that the deal is anti-competitive, arguing that the two companies are looking at very different markets — creativity and collaboration.
“Figma is a leader in interactive product design, focused on building a collaborative web platform. Adobe is a leader in the creative tools space, helping millions of users create amazing visual content. Together, our vision will help enable millions of consumers to transform their productivity with creativity,” the company said.
The company indicated it is continuing to work with the various regulatory bodies to bring the deal to fruition. “We are engaged in constructive and cooperative discussions with regulators in the US, UK and EU among others. We continue to expect to close the transaction in 2023, in line with previously stated guidance.”
Figma for its part simply mirrored the Adobe statement with one of its own. “Figma is reimagining product design and bringing the power of collaborative, web-based tools to teams around the globe. Adobe is delivering industry-leading tools that empower people everywhere to express their creativity. Together, our complementary strengths have the potential to create tremendous value for consumers. We look forward to continued conversations with regulators focused on the benefits a combined Adobe-Figma entity will bring.”
Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, believes that Adobe’s and Figma’s arguments are correct and goes as far to say that as we see the development of generative AI in the creative field, Adobe needs this deal to stay relevant.
“Let’s be honest, with Stabile Diffusion, Stability AI, Midjourney and DALL-E, the [creative] tools business could become commoditized. Adobe needs something to bet on or their [core creative] business may not be around in 10 years, let alone five,” Wang told TechCrunch.
He says that if the DOJ succeeds, it could have a devastating impact on businesses’ ability to react to changing markets.
“Adobe needs to find new businesses and adjacent businesses. In the long run, a block by the DOJ would mean a death sentence to companies in their ability to expand and meet their fiduciary obligations to shareholders,” he said.
Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt last year, Figma CEO Dylan Field said that joining forces with Adobe will enable him to move much faster than he could on his own, the standard argument of any CEO, whose startup is being sold:
“I started to form a thesis of ‘creativity is the new productivity’ and we don’t have the resources to just go do that right now at Figma,” Dylan noted, giving the standard answer that 99% of founders tend to give when they sell to a bigger rival. “If we want to go and make it so that we’re able to go into all these more productive areas, that’s gonna take a lot of time. “To be able to go and do that in the context of Adobe, I think gives us a huge leg up and I’m really excited about that.”
Prior to the acquisition announcement, Figma had raised over $333 million, per Crunchbase. In its most recent investment, a $200 million round in June 2021, the company was valued at $10 billion. By September 2022, when the companies announced the deal, the final price was double that 2021 valuation.
The DOJ did not respond to our request for comment prior to publication.