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An Open Letter to the Department of Justice, re: Adobe acquiring Figma

Hi there,

I recently found through MarketWatch (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/adobes-20-billion-figma-merger-reportedly-facing-doj-scrutiny-2022-11-03) that you are investigating the Adobe acquisition of Figma. I am glad to hear this and would like to provide my insight as both an Adobe and Figma customer, and why your investigation is important. In particular, as a dual citizen of both the United States and Canada, why this investigation is not only important to American citizens, but to creators all around the world.

My relationship with Adobe began in college where the company had a strong hold as an industry standard for creative learners and professionals in the digital space. My college chose the Adobe Creative Suite (now known as Creative Cloud) because of this. A side effect of this very common story across nearly all college campuses is that the cost of our education in both time and money, are heavily intertwined with Adobe’s products. At the time, I liked the software, and it did exactly what I needed to do. To this day, the ladder still holds true. However, over time, my use of these products began to become increasingly unacceptable to a professional like me for several reasons:

Disclaimer: I know these things are not illegal, but they are evidence to point for legitimate reasons for me to find a competitor.

  1. Adobe uses what is called in the user experience design sector as, “dark patterns,” which can be a combination of deceptive design techniques intended to maximize the user to spend more money on the product at the expense of the software being more difficult to use in the process
  2. Adobe has designed their Creative Cloud software in such a way that it behaves exactly like malware. In other words, it is malware. I am not using hyperbole in this statement, I am using the literal definition of the word malware.
    https://community.adobe.com/t5/creative-cloud-services-discussions/how-do-we-remove-this-malware-virus-called-quot-creative-cloud-quot/td-p/12232204
  3. Lastly, when I went through the appropriate channels to express my concerns/frustrations, it led to someone routinely insulting me – often in such a way that attempted to use my public disclosure of my disability against me. I reported this behavior 2 to 3 times to their moderation team and action has not been taken after over 2 months (thus far).

As I say in my disclaimer, these 3 primary examples (of many) in my experience with Adobe has led to me finding other creative software to flee these constant disruptions in my workflow. This is where I decided to finally move on and began spending 3 months learning and using Figma, at which point I found out Adobe was acquiring Figma. Figma was known in the creative community as an Adobe alternative, with the more enthusiastic Figma fans calling it ‘the Adobe killer.’ This narrative was often leveraged and promoted in the company’s marketing strategy. An example of this can be found in a deleted Tweet from its founder and CEO:

It is my opinion that Adobe’s acquisition of Figma is a clear case of anticompetitive behavior that puts people like myself and many other creatives in a position where

  1. we stopped doing business with one company
  2. that our strong distaste for that company led to us doing business elsewhere
  3. find ourselves returning to that same company through said company acquiring its competitor
  4. finding ourselves going to another company once more costly to us due to the time and money it takes to learn a new creative product

Thank you for taking this time to read this and/or forwarding it to the appropriate individuals within the antri-trust division regarding this matter.

—Ian McKenzie

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