The Story of Figma: Collaboration, Community and Creativity
I first met Dylan Field when he was a 19-year-old intern, making his mark at Flipboard’s offices in Palo Alto. He was already convinced he wanted to be a founder, and it was clear enough to me that he was on course to do extraordinary things.
A couple of years later, we were delighted to write Dylan his first seed-stage cheque for his fledgling business idea with co-founder Evan Wallace. Over the following decade, I watched as Dylan transformed into the visionary leader of Figma, driving a revolution in the world of design and creativity, and creating a global phenomenon. Today I’m thrilled to congratulate them on the announcement that Adobe has agreed to acquire Figma for the sum of approximately $20 billion, making it one of the largest acquisitions of a private tech business in history.
This is a milestone investment for Index, and not because we are fortunate to be Figma’s first and largest venture partner. Figma and Dylan are emblematic of Index’s ethos: building deep, meaningful relationships with unconventional founders from their early days, and partnering with them through peaks and valleys of their journey to build an iconic business.
This is also a deeply personal moment for me and there’s no doubt I’ll miss being part of the story.
Dylan is an extraordinary person, a Renaissance individual with the rare capacity to treat his own personality as an active experiment in design: something to seek out feedback on, to be constantly tweaked and optimized, and even to be rebuilt from scratch where the needs of his company demand it. He’s also a close friend. I’m so proud of what Dylan and his team have achieved, and how they’ve matured as individuals and operators.
When we look at today’s announcement, it’s fair to ask: what makes Figma so special?
There are a few big trends that Figma has both contributed to and benefitted from. The first is the generational significance of design-thinking. In the 19th century, the most significant marker of authority was spoken eloquence: your skills in oratory were how you found an audience. In the 20th century, as literacy rates increased, arguably that power migrated to the written word. Now, in the 21st century, as we dwell in an increasingly digital realm, the best proxy for public credibility is intuitive, responsive design. Thanks to the app-ification of everyday life, we’ve developed an extraordinary civilizational sophistication in appreciating good design – and a marked intolerance for the bad.
Figma saw this dramatic shift years ago, and has been the primary platform for accelerating it. For anything digital involving an output on a screen, Figma is increasingly where the most crucial work happens. Dylan and Evan have always been committed to reimagining the relationship between creativity, collaboration and productivity. They recognized – long before pretty much everyone else, in an era when designers were sending static files back and forth over email – that both consumers and creators needed faster feedback loops, as well as a space to communicate in real-time to make the best and most beautiful products possible.
Figma hasn’t just sparked a design revolution. It’s also been a principle enabler of the rise of the creative class and the ‘creator economy’, based on access to great tools for making, distributing and monetizing digital content. In striking contrast to previous generations, 75% of Gen Z say they now want to be creators, not just consumers.
There’s no way Figma could have won the hearts of so many people around the world (more than 80% of users are outside of the US) if the company itself hadn’t worked hard at its own culture. Having gone straight from intern to founder, Dylan is the first to admit he had some tough lessons to learn about management in the early days of Figma. But as a result of his willingness to accept guidance and mentorship, he’s grown to become one of the most humble, humane and clear-sighted leaders I’ve ever worked with. The utility and versatility of Figma as a tool reflects that deep commitment to respect and collaboration that’s now baked into Figma’s culture.
Dylan has always been convinced that the community should be the main driver of Figma’s adoption. As he told me in a recent chat: ‘The first place is your home, the second place is work, and the third place hopefully is the community of interest – a global, online community of interest around design and creativity. Long-term that’s what we want to do with Figma.’
Their acquisition marks a new chapter in Figma’s journey. Adobe is the perfect partner to supercharge the company’s mission to democratize the world of design and creativity. Together, Adobe and Figma are creating a powerful platform, well-positioned to compete directly with some of the world’s largest tech companies in the productivity and collaboration space. We are excited to see them in action and are confident they will rise to the challenge. A heartfelt congratulations to Dylan and Evan as well as their executive team Amanda Kleha, Claire Butler, Kris Rasmussen, Kyle Parrish, Nadia Singer, Nairi Hourdajian, Praveer Melwani, Shaunt Voskania, Sho Kuwamoto, and Yukhi Yamashita, and the entire Figma family. I’m going to miss the intimacy of those early days and years, but as Figma continues to fly high, the Index team will keep cheering them on.
Published — Sept. 15, 2022