After a decades-long close relationship, Microsoft and Adobe’s alliance might be on the rocks, thanks to a rival interface design software that’s on the rise. Figma is a collaborative web application for interface design, developed by Dylan Field and Evan Wallace over the past decade or so, and currently worth approximately $10 billion. The software has already been adopted by tens of thousands of Microsoft employees and its popularity has risen quickly in recent years.
Microsoft designers were introduced to Figma in 2016, when the company acquired mobile app development platform Xamarin, whose team of 350 developers used the software. Now, not only is it a primary tool for many of the company’s designers, it’s also used by its engineers, marketers, and data scientists. The platform promotes global collaboration, keeping the company’s employees connected across Asia, Europe, and Africa, which is a key selling point according to Jon Friedman, corporate vice president of design and research at Microsoft.
Figma’s popularity isn’t limited to the Seattle software giant; it has also been adopted by designers at Google, Oracle, and Salesforce, not to mention smaller companies like Airbnb and Twitter. Microsoft’s adoption of Figma, however, puts its connection to Adobe’s celebrated — and influential — creative suite of design tools, both within the company and in its software bundles, in jeopardy.