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Adobe Is Trying to Spend $20 Billion to Buy Back Its Swagger

The company sees buying Figma as a way to overhaul its business, but critics see echoes of Facebook’s alleged practice of buying up its competition. Regulators could still block it. 

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Illustration: Mathieu Labrecque for Bloomberg Businessweek

In October, Adobe Inc. held its annual event to announce new products. As executives stood onstage explaining changes to the company’s decades-old tools such as Photoshop that would make them more like that of Figma, the startup it had just agreed to acquire for $20 billion, some people watching the livestream expressed their concern that Figma would become more like Adobe instead. Messages like “#FreeFigma” and “Make Figma Great Again” dotted the comments section, while others groused about Adobe’s prices and shared tips about cheaper alternatives. Eventually a moderator chided everyone to “keep it civil in the chat.” 

The event came a month after Adobe announced it was purchasing Figma, a deal it says is the centerpiece of one of the biggest transformations in its 40-year history. Adobe plans to complete the transaction next year, but that may be complicated by the revelation on Nov. 2 that the Justice Department is investigating the deal. The DOJ has begun talking to customers and rivals, suggesting a challenging regulatory review that could drag on for years.