Adobe has 'no plans' to invest in XD despite failed Figma buy

Oh the bitter irony – now Figma can enjoy a monopoly in UX niche, say devs

Adobe has confirmed it will no longer push the envelope for XD, the vector design tool used by developers for web and mobile apps.

Ironically this decision leaves the market open for Figma, the company the luxury software giant tried to buy for $20 billion in a transaction that was itself killed by regulator scrutiny amid concerns it would lead to monopoly situation.

The audacious and eye-waveringly expensive bid by Adobe was launched in September 2022 and immediately attracted the attention of the the anti-trust team at the DoJ, along with their counterparts in the European Commission and the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.

Much like Nvidia had done when watchdog scrutiny became too intense, Adobe threw in the towel, saying in December 2023 that both it and Figma disagreed with the regulators' findings "but we believe it is in our respective best interests to move forward independently."

Figma, which received a $1 billion termination fee, said at the time: "We no longer see a path toward regulatory approval of the deal."

Now Adobe has told us it sees no way forward for XD, a desktop program created to architect design user interfaces and wire together artboards to create interactive prototypes and drop templates for apps.

"Adobe XD is currently in maintenance mode to support the needs of existing customers," a spokesperson for the company told The Reg.

In fact it went into maintenance mode in May last year, which some developers think was in anticipation of the Figma buy being waved through.

Adobe's website says: "We want to remind you that Adobe XD continues to be in maintenance mode. This means that we're not investing in ongoing development or shipping new features within the product. We continue to support existing customers by addressing bugs and updating any security or privacy needs while in maintenance mode."

One well placed source close to Adobe told us the company has now dissolved the XD team. We asked Adobe, and the spokesperson said: "Adobe disinvested [in XD] years before an agreement was reached on Figma. It is no longer being sold as a single application to new customers, and Adobe has no plans to further invest in the product."

A developer source quipped: "I think it's great to be Figma, they're a monopoly in the UX niche." Penpot, UXPin and others may want to disagree.

Dana Rao, general counsel at Adobe, told TechCrunch in 2022 that XD didn't generate more than $15 million to $17 million a year in revenues for Adobe, and had just a handful of full-time employees working on it.

UK competition regulator the CMA said in November that it was concerned the merger would "eliminate" one of the two major players on the market at a time when Figma is deemed an "emerging threat to Adobe." It said an approved deal "would likely reduce innovation and the development of competitive new products."

Many developers have breathed a sigh of relief as the sale of Figma was called off, fearing price rises and being locked into Adobe.

One told us he suspected Figma would have been included in the Creative Suite, "so UX designers would be forced to pay $50 instead of the current $12 [per editor/ per month] that Figma charges."

We asked Adobe what comes next, given the interesting market dynamics, but it didn't respond. ®

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