From my perspective, Bruce comes across as an incredibly passionate and driven leader, with a very frank style. The hour flew by and the event was a huge success, as measured by the fact that nobody was reading email on their blackberry! As a relatively new customer of Photoshop, I found this session especially insightful. Go Adobe!
Adobe post Macromedia?
Adobe is all about making software that helps people communicate better. Adobe started in print, Macromedia in web publishing. Both companies moved in different direction but the visions were the same.
If anybody says that acquisitions are easy, they’re either ignorant or lying. In this case, both companies were local, they had similar visions and much overlap in their customer base. It was still hard:
For each Macromedia employee , and Adobe “buddie” was identified to ease the transition
The strategy was articulated to employees (and the street) why the combined companies made sense. The stock price of Adobe actually went up between announce and close of the deal
Adobe probably over-accomodated some Macromedia employees - should’ve made harder decisions early.
Are you unstoppable?
Nobody cares about the past – only about the future. Adobe is bigger and more influential today. Great loyal customer base, but because of the need to grow and appease Wall Street, it makes the job harder. Adobe has strong relationships with partners such as SAP, Apple and Sony. Relationships require lots of work. There are lots of new start-ups wanting to do a paradigm shift, and there is Microsoft…. But Adobe is going to continue to execute and innovate.
Can you talk about Globalization?
Adobe currently has about 650 employees in
The bigger problem is that we have to fix our K-12 system to be as competitive as
Can you talk about consolidation?
There are too many vendors selling too much to too few. There is much consolidation in the industry, but always room for innovation.
In terms of acquiring companies, especially now with the accounting rules, it’s become a big P&L hit. The numbers have to work. For a public company, it’s hard to spend lots of money on small companies that are not really profitable (-- unless perhaps you’re Google). The message to entrepreneurs “Be reasonsonable in your expectations”.
Can you talk about the Apple’s comeback?
Steve Jobs is brilliant. As long as he’s there, he’ll find new ways of re-inventing the company. He’ll continue to innovate and use his charisma and success.
Google is an amazing company. They will hit a wall someday, but nobody knows when. They are currently a big threat to Microsoft.
Let’s talk about Leadership topics. Is Paranoia part of your style?
Every threat is a threat. I’m very competitive and worry about everything. Never expected to be CEO of such a large company. I am very operational and have been accused that I’m running the company like it’s a small mom & pop shop. I am a perfectionist… people say I’m too data driven, but really, whoever presents, I just ask questions to see that they’ve done their homework. If it’s my opinion vs. somebody elses I’ll go with mine.
How do you promote out-of-the-box thinking?
At Adobe, we have a model of experimentation. There is also a more formal program in which they’ll take somebody with a good idea and fund outside of the business unit, almost like a VC, and discuss quarterly to see progress and if it should be funded.
Adobe was rated as one of the best places to work.
It’s all about the environment that we create. We treat our employees well, make it a great place to work. We also contribute ~$15M annually to the community and encourage employees to participate. If you take care of employees, they end up being more happy and productive.
Are you still excited to go to work on Monday AM?
Some Mondays more than others. There is less time to work on things I want. The influence that Adobe has on society really gets me excited. Throughout the world I meet people that use our products and they’ve changed their lives. That’s a big turn on.
How do you balance between work and home?
Every school vacation, we go away, but my deal is that I need a couple of hours each day to work. That’s an agreement in my family that’s worked well and we continue to practice. Monday-Friday – expectation for my participation is low. I hate to travel on weekends…
What do you do to relax?
Try to devote the weekend to kids, go to their sports events, etc. The other parents don’t know what I do…. Bruce also jogs 3-4 times a week.
Open Source – is that a threat? (question from the audience)
Adobe caters to peole that want the same quality as professionals and those that want the best. As long as the company continues to innovate and provide that quality, they can defend themselves against open source. For commodity products (such as simple word processing), it will be difficult to compete. Adobe can’t compete with “good enough” solutions.
What do you see as the transformation to the web in 5-10 years? (question from the audience)
Video – I don’t think we can appreciate what the use of video will be over the web. Other than face-to-face, video is the best form to communicate. As broadband becomes more pervasive, websites will have much more interactive video content. Similar phenomena to desktop publishing.
How we access the web. It’s from less and less PC, and more non-PC and cellular (although here in the states we can hardly get voice). Every electronic device will be able to access web. The new Jaguar dashboard is all Flash UI. We’re moving way beyond surfing the web, and moving toward taking advantage of the web as a communication platform.