Meet the 30-year-old on the verge of selling his company to Adobe for $20B

Almost overnight, this 30-year-old has become the tech world’s newest titan – and is on his way to becoming one of the world’s youngest billionaires.

Dylan Field, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Figma, is set to enjoy an epic bargain after Adobe ADBE,
-3.12%
announcement plans to acquire his company for $20 billion this week. Field will remain with Figma (which makes collaborative design tools), and he would have a significant stake in his company. Forbes estimated it at 10%, which means Field could be looking at a $2 billion salary from the deal. (Field declined to provide details of its ownership share with MarketWatch.)

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

And Adobe clearly saw the value in Figma’s model. The acquisition would be the largest in Adobe’s history, although some Wall Street analysts have questioned if he overpaid. (What else, Adobe shares fell to their worst week since 2002 in light of the news.) But Adobe chief executive Shantanu Narayen told investors the deal will “significantly expand our reach and market opportunities.”

Either way, it’s a big step for Field, who launched Figma with former Brown University classmate Evan Wallace in 2012. a story from the Wall Street Journal noted, Field lived in a gritty San Francisco apartment just four years ago and bought dollar cups of coffee on the way to work.

“I had a tiny sip of champagne last night.”


— 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. Here is some of what he had to say (some comments have been edited for brevity and clarity):

On how Field’s life could change with the payment from Adobe: While Field won’t discuss the specifics of what he’ll gain from the deal, he doesn’t deny that he will benefit significantly. He says he doesn’t think of much beyond his business and his next chapter. “Right now, I’m quite sold on Figma and trying to think about how to make Figma a success, especially in this new environment,” he says. In other words, he is not yet planning to colonize Mars with his riches. to the Elon Musk.

But Field admits he’s still pretty buzzed with the events of the past week. “It’s very cool though, I’m not going to lie,” he said.

On how he celebrated the affair: Field is known to love wine, but says he hasn’t had a lot to drink in recent weeks because he’s been so focused on his job and the case. Nonetheless, he says, “I had a tiny sip of champagne last night” with the Figma team.

On Figma’s value proposition: Simply put, it’s about the ability to work together through the cloud. “We’re able to make it collaborative,” Field says of the tools Figma offers. “So if you’re a designer and I’m an engineer, there’s no need to exchange files back and forth… We can edit together. We can exchange ideas. This collaboration was important to many of our customers.

A more recent 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 all the way into production.”

Why and how the Adobe deal was made: Field notes that when he co-founded the company, there were serious questions 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 increasingly digital – and, by extension, increasingly leveraging digital design tools – the design community has flourished and the need for good design has become ubiquitous. “Every business should care about design,” he says.

“Adobe’s mission is creativity for everyone, Figma’s mission has been to make design accessible to everyone. They are two sides of the same coin in some ways.


— Dylan Field, co-founder and CEO of Figma

Thus, Adobe’s desire to leverage what Figma offers its customers as a cutting-edge digital design platform, Field says. And not only tapping into that, but also helping Figma expand its platform by adding different tools and capabilities – not just for the designer audience, but also for the wider creative audience. “We were really excited about that because it accelerates the impact we already wanted to have, but also expands it,” Field says.

On Figma’s image as “Adobe killer”: Yes, Figma was described that way. And field once even tweeted, “Our goal is to be Figma and not Adobe.” Field says he still sticks to the point that the two companies are distinct in some 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. They are two sides of the same coin in some respects. He adds that the two companies are aligned “around craftsmanship and community” and “there’s so much we can do together.”

On Field’s view on education: Much has been made of the fact that Field did not graduate from college – he attended Brown University, but left during his freshman year to start his career as an entrepreneur (he was accepted for a scholarships led by financier Peter Thiel). Field says he’s not anti-college in itself. “I care a lot about learning, and (going) to a university can be a great way to do that in a structured way.” But he also says there are other ways to gain knowledge, pointing to readily available online courses. As a result, Field finds it hard to understand that many companies still require college degrees from applicants. “I think they’re missing a lot of great talent,” he says.

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