Adobe Photoshop CC 2017
Photo: Szabo Viktor via Unsplash

The Figmaization of Adobe

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: Why the long-term success of the Adobe-Figma deal might hinge on which company’s corporate culture prevails, why ASML isn’t worried about the chip slump, and why Dmitri Alperovitch is worried about cybersecurity blowback after the U.S. imposed new chip export controls on China.

Can Adobe remake itself in Figma’s image?

I was at the Adobe MAX conference this week in Los Angeles, as the company discussed its strategic vision, new product features, and, of course, the Figma acquisition.

It’s already clear: Adobe is trying to be more like Figma.

  • The company announced a bunch of new product features with Figma-like flavoring, including new collaboration features for Photoshop, Illustrator, and PDF reader Acrobat.
  • Adobe’s Share for Review feature, for example, allows users to co-edit, comment, and approve workflows across images, documents, and videos.
  • Share for Review is asynchronous, but Adobe also offers real-time co-editing via its Express product, a feature it wants to expand across its suite.
  • “Our acquisition of Figma is significantly going to accelerate our ability to make real-time co-editing a reality across [Adobe],” said digital media president David Wadhwani during the company’s investor meeting.

In fact, Adobe XD is essentially being replaced by Figma.

  • Adobe XD was originally conceived as a desktop product for screen design.
  • But Figma realized early on that designers and developers needed to work together in a collaborative way that simply wasn’t possible on a desktop, said Adobe chief product officer Scott Belsky during a press conference.
  • “[Figma] totally reframed the whole industry to the point where XD became a company that was just not growing or working, frankly, and we started to wind down our focus on that,” he said.

But Adobe thinks it is influencing Figma, too.

  • During the keynote, for instance, Figma CEO Dylan Field pointed out that he was excited about adding Adobe fonts to Figma.
  • He also noted the benefits of leveraging Adobe’s expertise in video, imaging, and 3D. “We don’t serve that very well in Figma today,” said Field.

Many in the design community would like Adobe to become more like Figma, versus the other way around. But Adobe thinks this is a false binary.

  • “I think it's best of both versus one company becoming the other,” Adobe senior vice president of digital media Ashley Still told me yesterday.
— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)


As companies scale in the cloud, they face new data management challenges. Join our webinar to learn how Capital One approached scaling its data ecosystem by federating data governance responsibility, and how companies can operate more efficiently by combining centralized tooling and policy with federated data management responsibility.

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It’s good to be a monopoly

Running a monopoly chip business has its advantages, especially as the rest of the industry is pushed into turmoil — the result of a rapid, significant reversal in demand for consumer chips and U.S. efforts to block semiconductor tech sales to China.

For Dutch semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker ASML, things are not so bad. The company is the exclusive manufacturer of tools that use extreme ultraviolet lithography tech, which is necessary to print cutting-edge chips.

ASML said early Wednesday when it held an earnings conference call with investors that some of its customers — Intel, Samsung, and TSMC, for example — had delayed equipment delivery dates. But, according to CEO Peter Wennink, customers “never cancel” even amidst a recession.

What does tend to happen, Wennink said, is that customers ask ASML to delay the delivery of the tools, pushing them out to more favorably suit whatever adjustments the chip manufacturers have had to make to their expansion plans.

Reading between the lines, it appears Wennink is talking about the fact that TSMC recently revised its factory and tool spending to $36 billion from its previous guidance of $40 billion to $44 billion; Micron made cuts to its capital spending plans, as did Intel.

ASML is in an enviable position compared to some of the other tool makers. Located in the Netherlands, it can operate outside of the increasingly hawkish U.S. view of China and its ability to buy American chip technology.

Sales of the advanced EUV machines are blocked to Chinese customers, but only because one of the crucial submodules is manufactured by a San Diego subsidiary, without which the EUV machines would be unable to operate. The U.S. muscled the Dutch into themselves blocking the export of the EUV systems to China as a result.

Read the full story here.

— Max A. Cherney (email | twitter)

It’s not privacy vs. security anymore

In the last few years, the roles of privacy and security executives — and the budgets they control — have grown significantly as organizations have worked to stymie the growing threat of cyberattacks and navigate the ever-changing landscape of data regulation. But good privacy and security strategies are often as much about people as they are policy, and the push and pull between the two remits can sometimes create friction within an organization.

Join Protocol Enterprise’s Kyle Alspach for an event recorded live at KubeCon North America at 11 a.m. PDT on Thursday, Oct. 27. Kyle will be joined in discussion by Chris Burrows, chief information security officer, Rocket Companies; Jacob DePriest, vice president and deputy chief security officer, GitHub; and Larry Whiteside Jr., chief information security officer, RegScale. RSVP here.

A warning over Russia and China

So, it may actually be time for "Shields Up" Part 2. Just FYI.

A Russian escalation in disruptive cyberattacks against the West is looking a lot more likely, according to cybersecurity and geopolitics expert Dmitri Alperovitch. But there’s more: China may be jumping into the fray, too, in response to the U.S. move to block Chinese access to advanced chip technology, the CrowdStrike co-founder said during a livestream Q&A today with The Washington Post.

"What I do think we're about to enter is probably one of the most dangerous times that we've had in the history of the cyber domain, when it comes to our infrastructure here in the West — both because of what Russia may be doing against us, as well as China," said Alperovitch, who now heads the Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington think tank.

In terms of Russia, "we are entering a new phase of the conflict" over Ukraine, where Vladimir Putin is "starting to realize that the war is not going well for him … And that may mean that he's going to be much more willing to confront not just Ukraine, but also the West." In terms of targeting the West, "cyber probably is going to be his first weapon of choice," Alperovitch said.

As for China, Alperovitch said the U.S. chip blockade is "a declaration of economic war," and that "I doubt that they will take it sitting down."

China’s leadership is currently preoccupied with this week's Communist Party Congress, he noted. "But once they get past the Congress and the changes that Xi Jinping is implementing within the party, I think you will see retaliation both against American companies in China as well as potentially through cyber operations, to try to compensate for the loss of access to technology with IP theft."

— Kyle Alspach (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

IBM reported better-than-expected earnings results, but revenue growth of 6.5% is what passes for better-than-expected these days from the company.

While AT&T and other telecom providers have been making a lot of noise about moving to the cloud, Verizon insisted this week that it plans to keep its “core” under its own control.


As companies scale in the cloud, they face new data management challenges. Join our webinar to learn how Capital One approached scaling its data ecosystem by federating data governance responsibility, and how companies can operate more efficiently by combining centralized tooling and policy with federated data management responsibility.

Register to attend

Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

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