Figma figured out how to disrupt in multiple dimensions, and not only with the actual software – Figma was early to figuring out how to put rich applications into the browser by transpiling C++ to asm.js in 2012 (and eventually via WebAssembly in 2017).

But companies at scale must defend the moat. For Google, the moat is mobile (Android, Chrome), identity (driven by daily-login applications like Mail and Calendar), data gravity (your content and others' content – YouTube), and more.

Figma, while not yet a platform, was an existential threat to the Adobe moat. Adobe's moat keeps users on the platform – from photo editing to signing freelancing contracts, the entire creative suite is Adobe. M&A is a tough way to defend the moat, but large companies can't innovate the way that startups can (half of M&A transactions fail to work – integration problems, perverse incentives, and everything in between).  

The markets aren't excited about the acquisition – $ADBE is down 17% today. Figma represents the highest ever NTM1 revenue multiple ever paid for a SaaS company at scale (roughly $400m revenue).


The ex-CTO and co-founder of Figma, Evan Wallace, is also the author of esbuild, which I've written about in New Wave Frontend Toolchains.

1NTM = Next twelve months. A forward-looking projection based on current performance, which is usually used when thinking about SaaS multiples and comparisons.