Adobe Macromedia acquisition roundup

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2005

As you might expect from a story with design, media, and technology angles, Adobe's impending acquisition of Macromedia has resulted in much reaction from a big chunk of the blogosphere. Here are what some technologists, designers, and pundits have had to say about the deal so far:

Mike Chambers, a Product Manager at Macromedia, had a few things to say about the acquisition on his blog. He can't say too much because of legal constraints around the deal, but he specifically mentions Macromedia's "culture of openness and participation" as one of the reasons that Adobe was interested in the company.

Kevin Lynch, Chief Software Architect for Macromedia, posted what sounds like a press release about the deal on his site. He's very hopeful about the future of the combined company.

Macromedia MX evangelist John Dowdell notes that Macromedia is "doing a lot of hiring these days" and points to Google Video's coverage of the deal.

(Note: if you're keeping score, that's three employees of Macromedia chiming in about the acquisition on their blogs. And many more MM employees keep active blogs, so I'm sure we'll be hearing more from that side of the fence (although because of the legal stuff, it looks like posts about this need to be approved). On the other side, I've never heard of an Adobe employee that keeps a blog. Anyone?)

Marc Canter, one of the founders of the company that eventually became Macromedia, wants his name back, along with Director because MM "more or less have abandoned it". Marc seems fairly negative about Macromedia ("Lord knows they [can] teach a class in how NOT to run a software company") and thinks that maybe Adobe can turn things around, but only if they can shed the software-in-a-box paradigm and start making multi-user, community-based software with online components that don't rely on patent protection.

Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen said in the announcement conference call that 9/11 was a bit of a catalyst for the deal: "after 9/11, we both realized that being enemies didn't make sense". Zuh? But the new company still has enemies worth fighting, even in a post-9/11 world...here's what Chizen had to say in an interview a year ago: "Microsoft is the competitor, and it's the one that keeps me up at night."

Tim Bray, co-author of XML and Director of Web Technologies at Sun, thinks that Adobe got Macromedia for their web products. Unlike most other commentary I've seen, Bray feels that "Macromedia's DreamWeaver is the single most important Web-design product" and that "Flash is a distraction" that Adobe may drop because "near as [Bray] can tell, Macromedia has never made any serious money with Flash". What's the alternative for web developers? Ajax.

Dave Shea, well-known and respected web designer, echoes the thoughts of many in saying that Adobe bought Macromedia for their web products and savvy...and Flash in particular. Shea also wonders "what will become of Adobe's long-standing commitment to SVG, now that Flash is in the fold", names Microsoft as Adobe's main competition now (MS seems to fighting on several fronts now...the Google/Yahoo/Jeeves, Apple, and now this), but is also worried about the loss of competition in the design space: "the combined Macromedia and Adobe stable of design software is industry standard; with this buyout, Adobe essentially has a monopoly over the design world. (Quark aside. Very far aside.)" Flash/web developer Todd Dominey echoes many of Shea's comments in his post about the deal.

Dave Winer, who has his fingers in too many pies to summarize, compares the Adobe/MM acquisition to MM's purchase of Allaire: "Remember all the hooplah over the Allaire-Macromedia acquisition, and all the synergies that were supposed to happen. Hmmm. Did any happen? BusinessWeek didn't think so. Will any happen here? Heh. Slightly more exciting than Microsoft's acquisition of Groove."

TidBITS has a good overview of the evolution and history of the relationship between Macromedia and Adobe by Glenn Fleishman.

Broadband pundit Om Malik calls it a Web 1.0 (or even a desktop publishing) merger: "They are becoming increasingly irrelevant in digital worlds where free programs like iPhoto and Picasa are setting the tone on the desktop. Don't expect innovation as a result of this deal - this is a deal to boost the revenues and maybe profits."

Russell Beattie, who works for Yahoo! on mobile products and services, is heartened to see Adobe's focus on mobile cited in their reasoning for the merger and "can see a combined Flash/SVG player (Flash Lite 1.1?) from Adobe becoming a really viable platform". But Beattie also notes that "Adobe will always be the company that had a researcher *thrown in jail* for publicly explaining flaws in their product" (see here for details). Back to mobile, a commenter on Beattie's thread warns, "PDF is the dog that can bring a 2GhZ PC to its knees to display a text file. not the kind of attitude thats right for mobile."

Don Makoviney is looking forward to the stabilization in the tools competition: "As a working designer and developer of enterprise applications, I am tired of the battle over tools. When a carpenter buys a hammer, he doesn't have to change the way he builds houses based on the hammer he buys."

From the survey of all the commentary out there, the general feeling seems to be that Photoshop will kill Fireworks, Illustrator will kill Freehand, and Dreamweaver will kill GoLive. This seems to be confirmed by Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen's thoughts in a statement about the deal.

Mark notes that this is the second time Adobe has purchased Freehand. :)

The Macromedia XML News Aggregator (time for a new name?), which is a good place to keep up with all of the news and commentary about this deal, also displays a list of recent searches. There aren't many searches about the deal right now, but just after the deal was announced yesterday morning, the most recent search terms were "suck adobe", "adobe rape mm", "adobe ruin flash", "f._.ck adobe", "really upset", "stop adobe", "against adobe", and "hate adobe". I'm detecting a tiny bit of anti-Adobe sentiment here...

The financial markets didn't seem to react too well to the deal. Adobe's stock price fell 8+% while Macromedia, which was offered $41.86 per share, only saw a rise to 36.72.

BusinessWeek has excerpts of a conversation with the CEOs of Adobe and Macromedia.

Jeremy Allaire, former CTO of Macromedia, had this to say about the acquisition: "Macromedia lost the enterprise publishing race to Adobe, and Adobe lost it with the Web publishing community. So the deal combines the best of both worlds. It gives Macromedia a huge sales channel, especially on the enterprise side. This will probably make the channels as strong as say Microsoft has."