Who is Figma’s Dylan Field? The young founder turned his colleagues’ investments 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 an internship at LinkedIn in 2010: seed investments from his former manager Pete Skomoroch, as well as Index Partners general partner Danny Rimer, who saw the potential for Field after a Flipboard presentation in 2012. Although Field clearly showed promise early on as a founding teenager, even those who trusted him probably couldn’t have predicted his recent trajectory.
On Thursday, Figma, the collaborative graphic design company founded by Field with his Brown classmate Evan Wallace, agreed to be acquired by former competitor Adobe for $20 billion. If the deal goes as planned in 2023, Field will be a billionaire and will still be CEO and run the company’s operations. Forbes believes that Field owns 10% of the company, a part valued at $2 billion.
Field has always been more of an entrepreneur than a student – he taught himself using his family’s computer when he was three years old and says his interest in robotics preceded his academic success, which led him to Brown University. During her freshman year, Field applied for the Thiel Scholarship, a grant program that provided students with $100,000 in funding to pursue entrepreneurship instead of graduating. He won the scholarship and dropped out of Brown in 2012.
His first venture, a drone software company to catch drunk drivers, never came to fruition. Still, he and Wallace, who both studied computer science at Brown, started building Figma. Figma’s early investors included Index Ventures, Phoenix Court and Greylock Partners. Rimer, who met Dylan while he was an intern, said FortuneFor Jessica Mathews, it wasn’t all easy when Field and Wallace started the business. “I mean now it looks like – what a fantastic result; it was so high and to the right. Obviously that’s not always how it happened,” Rimer said.
Greylock’s partner John Lilly first passed on 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 funds for their Series A, Lilly saw the potential and signed on.
Field and Wallace meticulously honed the product, creating what is hailed as the 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, which led Field to focus on revenue even as they continued to add to the design of the product.
Figma took off during the pandemic and saw its valuations rise even during the tumultuous tech market this year. In 2018, the company was valued at $115 million. The figure rose to $10 billion in June 2021, and Adobe’s price marks the company’s value as double that figure now. Wallace left the company in 2021 to work on other projects, according to Field. Netflix, Zoom and Airbnb are all customers of Figma. In 2020, the startup generated $75 million in revenue, now Adobe expects Figma to bring in $400 million in 2022.
The announcement of the acquisition has somewhat come full circle for investors who saw potential in Field early on. “Dylan was my intern in 2010, we stayed in touch as friends, and years later I was able to invest in the seed of Figma and the A-series,” Pete Skomoroch said. tweeted Thursday. “After a decade of hard work by the Figma team, the result is today the largest acquisition by a private technology company. Congratulations,” he added.
Sign up for the Makeshift Features mailing list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews and surveys.