Adobe acquires Magento - what it means for the community

May 21, 2018 by Paul Byrne

Business Environment eCommerce Technology

WTF? Adobe? Seriously?

Alan Storm, Karen Baker, Joshua Warren, Brendan Falkowski and other Magento ecosystem pillars have been commenting on today’s surprise (to me) announcement that Adobe has purchased Magento. Alan Storm’s twitter feed has been especially humorous and highlights some of the issues that may come up with an Adobe acquisition of Magento. Others, like Josh Warren have expressed unbridled optimism (ok, maybe just Josh, but I’m sure he speaks for others).

Adobe acquires Magento

Pros and Cons of an Adobe Acquisition of Magento

First of all, let me express that I feared this would be worse. It was no secret that the Magento shareholders took over the company with the same goal as a house-flipper. In fact, they held on to it for a pretty short period of time. That part was expected.

What was unexpected was the acquirer. There didn’t seem to be any indication that it would be Adobe. Amazon seemed like a more likely candidate, especially after their beefed up presence at the recent Imagine conference.

It could have been worse, far worse

I don’t know about other members of the Magento community, but, I, for one, am glad Amazon did not purchase Magento. It would have been in their best interest to push merchants to sell exclusively on Amazon and as an owner of Magento, they would have had more leverage to push that agenda. So, yea, it could have been worse.

Downsides of Adobe as the new Magento overlords

Adobe claims to have a dedication to Open Source, but, the case they make on Adobe’s blog post today is, frankly, laughable and only makes sense to people in the Adobe echochamber. The open source initiatives they cite like WC3 are in their best interest to help guide new standards to be compatible with Adobe’s direction. They have absolutely no credible experience leading an open-source initiative that I am aware of and they certainly cite none.

They then say that they use open source software and tools like Mongo DB and ApacheKafka and CentOS. Seriously? Who writes this crap? If you have a business today that does ANYTHING on the internet you are using open source tools like HTML, Javascript (which Adobe tried to kill with Flash but failed miserably). It’s like saying that you breath air just like everyone else on the planet. In the words of my daughter, “whatever.”

They also claim that they have ecommerce experience. Again, I call BS on this one. They have some services and software that are ubiquitous in ecommerce, but they are things like Photoshop, Illustrator, Invision, and other general design tools. The only one that could be considered more-or-less ecommerce-related is Scene7 since so many companies use it for image storage and special product configurators. I would be willing to gamble, however, that nobody with a Magento Open Source site is using Scene7 given its price tag. This is like saying that the electric company has internet expertise because servers run on electricity.

The scariest assertion to me is that Adobe is already calling Magento part of its Experience Cloud. If Magento Open Source (fka CE) becomes part of Adobe’s subscription model, it will soon be dead.

While Adobe’s visual products are great, its coding products are all crap (Cold Fusion, Dream Weaver, Flash, etc.). Let’s hope they don’t try to jam those down the community’s throat.

Potential Upsides

It’s no secret that Adobe has very deep pockets. If Adobe sees Magento as an opportunity, I think we’ll see some investment in the product. However, given Adobe’s capabilities, this will be focused on revenue opportunities for Adobe.

Adobe does have some credibility in the design space (OK, tons of it). Maybe we’ll see some improvements in Magento Page Builder or other design-centric elements. Adobe understands designers and how they work, Magento has struggled with this for a long time.

Please, Adobe, Understand the Magento Community and Ecosystem

Despite my use of colorful language, I don’t think the sky is falling. I hope Adobe really takes steps to understand the asset of the Magento community. We are a somewhat stubborn group, but, we’re incredibly resilient. There is a ton of mutual respect, collaboration and talent to be tapped into.

What I Expect

This can be another make-or-break moment for Magento in a long string of make-or-break moments. That’s how the technology world works. Change comes quickly. Even if Adobe completely screws the pooch, I’m sure we’ll have enough time to move our merchants to the right platform for them with minimal business interruption and a reasonable ROI.

On the other hand, the folks at Adobe that I’ve met are pretty smart. I honestly hope they listen to Mark LavelleĀ who I feel is someone who has embraced the Magento Community for the most part (despite some missteps that Karen Baker has thoroughly chronicled). If they can pair his team with some great Adobe resources, then, NOTHING will beat Magento.

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