Why it matters: The Biden administration is on the record as wanting to beef up antitrust enforcement. The Figma deal, at $20 billion, is certainly large enough to grab the attention of regulators. The big question is whether they’ll conclude that suing to block it is a case they can win. Either the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission could review the merger; both have taken a renewed interest in software and digital mergers.
Between the lines: The Clayton Antitrust Act says any acquisition that would reduce competition in an industry is illegal. Figma was founded as an Adobe competitor and has grown impressively by doing exactly that — implying there’s a case to be made that this acquisition is anti-competitive. Insofar as Adobe is already the dominant player in the space, any acquisition, let alone a $20 billion one, will be looked at carefully. “The fact that Adobe is not typically identified as a Big Tech platform should provide [Adobe and Figma] with little if any comfort,” Charles Rule, a partner at the Rule Garza Howley law firm and former DOJ antitrust official, tells Axios. “This deal appears to raise straightforward, traditional antitrust issues,” he says.
“There’s enough here to get a close look, and maybe a complaint,” adds a former FTC antitrust official. Another former FTC attorney tells Axios to expect a thorough initial investigation into possible overlaps.
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