During any period of economic downturn, businesses typically tighten their budgets, but for Adobe, high inflation and uncertainty provide an opportunity to take a big risk that could yield great results. Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen led prior such gambles, like the company’s 2009 acquisition of Omniture. However, it was David Wadhwani, president of the digital media business vertical, who led this year’s purchase of Figma — a close rival in the web application design market. With the $20 billion gambit, Wadhwani seems poised to rise in the company’s leadership ranks.
Wadhwani, a veteran of Adobe with a decade of experience in two stints, is widely seen as Narayen’s likely successor — although the CEO has not indicated a departure any time soon. However, the digital media president is already the third-highest-paid executive (behind Narayen and CFO Dan Durn).
Figma had cut into Adobe’s web interface design business, winning over developers at Microsoft, Google, Oracle, and others, so Wadhwani’s gamble was met with some scrutiny. But if the acquisition proves fruitful, and regulators don’t intervene, it could be seen as a genius move that might set the company’s future course for a long time to come.