Why African designers are concerned about Adobe’s $20 billion acquisition of Figma

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The design firm Figma will be purchased by the American multinational software company Adobe for $20 billion, eliminating one of its greatest competitors in the field of digital design.

With Adobe’s amazing innovation and expertise, particularly in 3D, video, vector, imaging, and fonts, Figma CEO Dylan Field stated in his announcement that “we can further reimagine end-to-end product design in the browser while building new tools and spaces to empower customers to design products faster and more easily.”

“Recognising that we are in an unpredictable, inflationary environment, we currently have no plan to change Figma’s pricing. All of Figma will continue to be free for education,” he added.

The $20 billion acquisition price represents a sizable leap for Figma, which was valued at just over $2 billion in 2020 and last valued at $10 billion in June 2021 during the startup’s $200 million in a Series E funding round.

Figma’s growing legacy is questioned

For some African designers, Adobe has always been notorious for having some cavalier approaches towards their ‘users’ whereas Figma has always been particularly customer-centric. Fungi Dube, a Zimbabwean brand and web flow web designer with 7 years of design experience, is one of them and she is anxious about Figma’s continued accessibility, endearing community features, and cost.

Despite Adobe products—Adobe Illustrator in particular—being instrumental to her day-to-day work, she said that “Figma has excelled in prioritizing designers and their needs. It has also been instrumental in providing an open-learning platform where many designers today have had the opportunity to get their foot in the door, and I sadly cannot say the same for Adobe. My anxiety lies in how attentive they will be to designer needs as they roll out new features and whether designers will not be met with so many other paywalls! You know, the fear really is that Adobe will, Adobe!“

Others, like the Nigerian product designer Robiu Adufe, believes that an opportunity to integrate some of Adobe’s feature is a welcome development. Yet, Adufe is skeptical about Figma’s ability to maintain the loyalty it had built and maintained over the years, especially through its freemium plan and collaborative feature.

“It will make it difficult for a lot of people starting out in the UX design field to afford [if the freemium plan is ended] and it is very difficult to crack a web application,” he told TechCabal.

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