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Recently, Figma, a collaborative web application for interface design, was purchased by adobe for $20 billion. It’s worth thinking about why Figma is so successful and why Adobe is willing to pay so much for it.
From the very beginning, Figma was oriented towards collaboration. Yes, it’s a great design tool. Yes, it runs entirely in the browser; No download or installation required. But more than anything else, Figma is a tool for collaboration. That was a goal from the start. Cooperation is not an afterthought; it was baked in.
My thesis on inverse above all, it’s about enabling collaboration. VR glasses and AR glasses? Fine, but the metaverse will fail if it only works for people who want to wear headphones. electronic money? I strongly oppose the idea that everything needs to be owned — and that every transaction needs to pay taxes to anonymous middlemen (whether they are called miners or bettors). In the end, I think Facebook/Meta, Microsoft, and others who say the metaverse is about “better meetings” are simply going in the wrong direction. I can tell you—anyone in this industry can tell you—that we don’t need better meetings; We need fewer meetings.
But we still need people to work together, especially as more and more of us work remotely. So the real question we faced was: How can we minimize meetings while still allowing everyone to work together? After all, meetings are a tool for coordinating people, for transmitting information in groups, for communicating ideas outside of face-to-face conversations. They are a tool for collaboration.
That’s exactly what tools like Figma are for: Allows designers to conveniently work together on a project without conflicting with each other. It’s about demonstrating designs to managers and other stakeholders. It’s about brainstorming new ideas (i.e. with Figjam) with your team members. And they’re about to do all of this without requiring people to gather in a conference room, using Zoom, or in any other conferencing service. The problem with those tools isn’t really the flat screen, the “Brady Bunch” design or the lack of avatars; the problem is that you still have to interrupt people and get them into the same (virtual) place at the same time, breaking any of their flow.
We don’t need better meetings; we need better collaboration tools so we don’t need as many meetings. That’s what the metaverse means for businesses. Tools like Google’s GitHub and Colab are really about collaboration, and so are Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. inverse closely related to gaming, and if you look at games like Overwatch and Fortnite, you’ll see that they’re really geared toward collaboration between online players. That’s what makes these games interesting. I have nothing against VR glasses, but what makes the experience special is the interaction with other players in real time. You don’t need goggles for that.
The partnership has made Figma worth $20 billion. This was one of the first “enterprise metadata” applications. It certainly won’t be the last.
Mike Loukides is vice president of emerging technology content at Communication O’Reilly.
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