Who is Figma’s Dylan Field? The young founder turned investments from coworkers into a $20 billion Adobe acquisition target

Most summer interns hope to get a good recommendation. But Dylan Field got a much more substantial vote of confidence after a LinkedIn internship in 2010 — seed investments from his former manager Pete Skomoroch, as well as Index Partners general partner Danny Rimer, who saw Field’s potential after a presentation. on Flipboard in 2012. While Field clearly showed early promise as a teenage founder, even those who had faith in him probably couldn’t have predicted his recent trajectory.

On Thursday, Figma, the collaborative graphic design company Field founded with his Brown classmate Evan Wallace, agreed to be bought by former competitor Adobe for $20 billion. If the deal goes through as planned in 2023, Field will be a billionaire and will remain CEO and run the company’s operations. Forbes estimates that Field owns 10% of the company, a portion valued at $2 billion.

Field was always more of a businessman than a student: he he taught himself to use his family’s computer at age three and says his interest in robotics preceded his academic success, which took him to Brown University. In his junior year, Field applied for the Thiel Scholarship, a scholarship program that offered students $100,000 in funding to pursue entrepreneurship rather than finish their degree. He won the scholarship and left Brown in 2012.

His first venture, a drone software company to catch drunk drivers, never took off. However, he and Wallace, who studied computer science at Brown, began building Figma. Figma’s early investors included Index Ventures, Phoenix Court, and Greylock Partners. Rimer, who knew Dylan when he was an intern, told him FortuneFor Jessica Mathews, it wasn’t all smooth sailing when Field and Wallace built the company. “I mean now it sounds like—what a fantastic result; it was so up and to the right. Obviously, it wasn’t always like that,” Rimer said.

Greylock’s venture partner, John Lilly, first passed over Field’s demo, Mathews reported, not because he wasn’t impressed with the technology, but because he didn’t see the business model. However, when Figma was raising money for their Series A round, Lilly saw the potential and signed up.

Field and Wallace meticulously perfected the product, creating what is known as Google Docs for graphic design, for four years before releasing the product publicly. Lilly and Rimer pushed the two technically-minded founders to start focusing on selling their idea to consumers, leading Field to focus on revenue even as they continued to add elements to the product design.

Figma took off during the pandemic and saw valuations surge even during this year’s tumultuous tech market. In 2018, the company was valued at $115 million. The figure jumped to $10 billion in June 2021, and Adobe’s price marks the value of the company at double that figure now. Wallace left the firm in 2021 to work on other projects, according to Field. Netflix, Zoom, and Airbnb are all Figma clients. In 2020, the startup generated $75 million in revenue, now Adobe forecasts that Figma will generate $400 million in 2022.

The acquisition announcement provided something of a full-circle moment for investors who saw Field’s potential early on. “Dylan was my intern in 2010, we kept in touch as friends, and years later I was able to invest in the Figma seed and Series A rounds,” Pete Skomoroch. tweeted Thursday. “After a decade of tireless work by the Figma team, today the result is the largest acquisition of a private technology company. Congratulations,” he added.

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