30-Year-Old on $20B Adobe Deal: I'm Cool if It Falls Apart

After stunning rise through Silicon Valley's ranks, Dylan Field sells Figma platform to tech giant
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2022 1:34 PM CDT
Updated Sep 18, 2022 8:03 AM CDT
His Software Was Meant to Rival Adobe's. Now, a $20B Deal
A view of the Adobe headquarters is seen in San Jose, Calif.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

When Dylan Field started work on the design-software startup Figma with former Brown classmate Evan Wallace, he hoped it would one day rival Adobe's Photoshop. This week, the 30-year-old arranged to sell his company to the larger one, and the payday will be "colossal" if the deal goes through, per the Wall Street Journal: $20 billion in cash and shares. That's double what Figma—deemed the "Google Docs, or GitHub, for designers," per Forbes—was valued at in June of last year, and an even bigger jump from 2018, when it was privately valued at $115 million.

It's an astonishing ascent for Field, a shy student at Brown who dropped out of the Ivy League school during his junior year to accept a Peter Thiel-run entrepreneurial fellowship, which he first used to try to come up with a drone software package. When that idea didn't pan out, he and Wallace, whom he'd met in the computer science program at Brown, debuted Figma, a graphics-editing platform that allows for collaboration among users. Four years after they started, the two launched the first public version of Figma's virtual sketch board, and suddenly Field was Silicon Valley's "it" guy. Netflix, Zoom, and Airbnb now count themselves among Figma's clients.

Wallace left Figma in late 2021. Both men will still hold about a 10% stake in the company, per Forbes. Field will continue to serve as CEO, reporting to David Wadhwani, Adobe's chief business officer for digital media, and in a Thursday blog post, Field wrote that "Adobe is deeply committed to keeping Figma operating autonomously," per Quartz. The Journal notes that some fans aren't thrilled that this tech David allowed itself to be absorbed by the industry's Goliath, but IPOs have been in a precarious position lately, and Field, now a new dad, says it was better to jump now on Adobe's offer than risk going public. And if it doesn't work out? "If this deal fell apart tomorrow, I'd feel just fine," he says. Much more here on Field's rise to the top of Silicon Valley. (Read more entrepreneurs stories.)

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