- Adobe’s $ 20 billion bid to purchase Figma makes CEO Dylan Field’s stake worth $ 2 billion.
- Field plans to guide Figma through this transition by focusing on its users and trusting its team.
- Colleagues and colleagues say it has been his leadership style from the start.
When design software startup Figma was just getting started, co-founder and CEO Dylan Field and his colleagues introduced potential customer design teams, but they struggled with a major problem. Although customers were thrilled with the Figma product, they were hesitant to switch from existing tools.
So when Field and her colleagues convinced startup colleague Coda to use her product at a presentation meeting, they were thrilled, said Claire Butler, a senior director of marketing and one of Figma’s first employees. This was the first time they convinced an entire design team to use his product. “We were a little surprised, but also excited,” she told Insider.
Once back at their San Francisco office to celebrate with food from a popular Bay Area Middle Eastern restaurant, Field got a call from the designer he introduced to Coda, who said he couldn’t use the product because there seemed to be a bug. Field quickly put the entire team to work to fix the problem.
Eventually it was a problem on the user’s computer or network. However, Field and fellow cofounder Evan Wallace, the CTO, drove 45 minutes back to Coda’s Palo Alto office to help the designer sort it out, Butler said.
For those who know Field, his response to the situation came as no surprise. Even today, he’s always on Twitter for potential customer concerns, Butler said.
“He cares and respects our community of users,” he said. “They are important to him. And how people think of Figma as a tool, as a company, as a brand, matters to him too.”
Now, Adobe’s $ 20 billion offer to purchase the design software startup makes Field’s stake in the company worth $ 2 billion. He has come a long way since Field founded Figma in 2012, based on an idea that came out of his time doing the Thiel Scholarship for Entrepreneurs. Since then, Figma has grown tremendously and has become loved by much of the design community.
The company’s valuation increased fivefold from $ 2 billion to $ 10 billion between 2020 and 2021, due to two funding rounds. It has been backed by companies such as Durable Capital Partners, Index Ventures, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and others.
Insider spoke to Field, his peers and colleagues about his journey, lessons learned, and how he will guide Figma through the acquisition.
Field’s rise to success
Field, a native of San Francisco Bay, raised in Sonoma County, was interested in design since middle school. As a college student at Brown, he decided to major in computer science. After taking a break to do a product design internship at the Flipboard news sharing service, he decided not to go back to school.
When he was 19, he attended the Thiel Scholarship, where he and Wallace came up with the idea for Figma.
Although Figma was founded in 2012, it didn’t release its first product until 2015 and launched a paid plan in 2017. Field also had to learn how to become a CEO, after just being an intern, he previously told. Insider. Early in the company’s trajectory, Field said he faced a potential employee exodus and had to learn to be more open to feedback and empower his team than him.
These became the most important lessons he learned as he continued to grow the company.
“Without trust, what is it? And if you don’t trust, you can’t empower people,” Field said.
Field is described by colleagues and colleagues as someone who leads with empathy. He also took his family on the Figma trip. His mother is a frequent presence in the office and even attended one of the first conferences with the company’s users.
Leading through the next chapter of Figma
Once the deal is concluded, Figma will remain a standalone unit within Adobe. Field, who will again lead Figma, will report to David Wadhwani, president of Adobe’s digital media industry.
However, unsurprisingly, Field is aware that many customers are unhappy or unsure that their favorite software tool is being bought by its biggest rival. The day after the deal was announced, he opened a Twitter space and allowed customers to ask questions.
It was only scheduled for 30 minutes, but Field ended up answering questions for nearly two hours. He says he had similar concerns when he considered the deal, so he resolved them with Adobe during the negotiations, including making sure Figma maintains autonomy.
Field did the same for employees in a full-fledged meeting immediately after the deal was announced and continues to answer questions in a Slack channel called “AMA acquisition.”
“What matters a lot more than my words right now are our actions over the next few years,” Field said. “And I’m very aware of that. So I’m looking forward to getting back to building with the team and then showing people over time with our consistency that, ‘Hey, we’ll take care of you, and that’s fine.'”
Field has a vision for the future of work
Although the deal may make Field a billionaire, his colleagues and colleagues said it never seemed like his main goal was to sell Figma for a huge profit. Mamoon Hamid, a Kleiner Perkins partner who led the Figma Series B round, said he invested because he saw a naturally curious founder who had a “clear point of view” on where design and the future of design should go. work software.
Field is himself an investor in the future of the work industry, as he supported Gather, a video chat startup that offers spatial audio to humanize virtual interactions.
“He’s very attentive to detail when it comes to his product, the company, how it’s built, the kind of people we hire. Just like there’s pride in detail, pride in ownership,” Hamid said.
Howie Liu, founder and CEO of the software startup Airtable, echoed it. “He has this charisma and passion that is really inspiring, but in a much calmer and more intense way,” Liu said.
Field has pondered how work is changing and where Figma fits into it, which is exactly why Adobe wants to bring him and his company into its ecosystem, said Scott Belsky, Adobe’s chief product officer.
“Dylan is simply an amazing engineer, thinker and product designer. I think Dylan has tremendous empathy for product designers and what they struggle with,” said Belsky. “He also has many principles and Dylan has an incredible ability to know what matters most to him and to do whatever it takes to preserve it.”
Do you work for Figma or Adobe or do you have information to share? Contact this reporter by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Signal at 925-364-4258. (Email submissions only, please.)