Moving from a startup to Adobe is a big change—but a good one.
It’s not always easy to hear that the cool startup you’re working for is about to be acquired by a big company. How will it affect your job? Will the culture be different? More rules and red tape?
Meet employees whose transition from startup culture to Adobe challenged their perceptions—and brought some unexpected and exciting opportunities.
Vice president of products, community and Behance • New York, New York
Seven years ago, Scott Belsky asked a small focus group a simple question: “Are you interested in a professional social network for creative people?”
“Every one of them said ‘no,’” Scott says. “They said, ‘We already have MySpace and Facebook.’” But then, they’d talk about the how hard it was to get exposure for their work.
“We were inspired by the frustration,” Scott says. “We wanted to really empower creative careers.” So he and his team started Behance, which is now the leading online platform for showcasing creative work, attracting millions of visitors who want to discover top talent.
In December 2012, Adobe acquired Behance and integrated it into its Creative Cloud offering. Scott says being acquired by Adobe gives Behance a chance to reach millions more creative minds and serve creative careers in new ways.
He attributes the success of the transition to Adobe’s open culture and receptiveness to new ideas. “When someone like me says why don’t we try something different, I’m not immediately shut out,” he says. “On the contrary, people say ‘Oh, that’s interesting, let’s try that.’”
Scott says he was also impressed by Adobe’s warm welcome and commitment to working together through the acquisition process. “David Wadhwani, who runs the entire digital media business came to New York and met with every single member of our team,” Scott says. “It blew my mind. He wanted to get a sense of who we are. That played no small role for everyone on our team.”
Senior manager of client services • London, United Kingdom
Acquisition: Efficient Frontier
When Adobe acquired Efficient Frontier, Charlotte was in the maternity ward about to give birth to her first child. As a senior leader with a growing family and ambitious career aspirations, she wondered how the change would impact her.
“I was excited that our goals had come to fruition at Efficient Frontier,” Charlotte says. “But I also wondered what this would mean for me, my family, and my team.’”
In the year since the acquisition, Charlotte’s team has grown by 35 percent and her responsibilities now include overseeing both the United Kingdom and Northern Europe regions. “At Adobe, you don’t have to take a step back after having a child,” she says. “If anything, I see more opportunity.”
For Charlotte that means more training and career development programs, and the chance to not only grow her career, but also develop her side of the online marketing business. “Previously we had a narrow discipline within a wider sphere of digital marketing,” she says. “Now being a part of the bigger company with a track record of investing in a number of different companies, we have the opportunity to tackle online marketing in a more connected way. I’m excited to have the eyes and ears of a big consumer audience.”
Adobe helps Charlotte maintain a healthy work-life balance through flexible hours and programs like the Adobe’s Women Group, a networking and educational initiative that helps support and empower women in their careers.
“Adobe’s key focus is to get more women in leadership positions,” she says. “I aspire to be in a greater leadership role, and I find it inspiring that the company is proactive in enabling that.”
Senior director of engineering • Basel, Switzerland
Acquisition: Day Software
Transitioning from a company of 200 to a company of more than 10,000 is bound to bring its share of challenges. When Adobe acquired Day Software, Jean-Michel was deliberate about acknowledging the reality with his team.
“We told the team that this was going to be a whole new level of communication and process, and they were going to have challenges. We said, ‘Write them down and when the list is full, come to us.’”
What was surprising to Jean-Michel was that only a few people had issues. “Adobe did a great job of respecting what was great at Day Software,” he says. “Not just the bits and pieces of the product, but also the people and the know-how in their brains.”
Jean-Michel says Adobe inspires his team to push the envelope of innovation in digital marketing at Adobe. “We’re on our way to helping marketers become more efficient,” he says. “At Adobe, you can have evolutionary and revolutionary innovation side by side, and the pace seems to accelerate as we are allowed to interact with more customers. It feels like we are part of something that’s changing everything.”
John-Michel says his team’s transition to Adobe was made smoother by the culture fit—one that encourages innovation, fairness, freedom, and creativity. “I’ve had zero attrition in the engineering department,” he says. “My problem is that people work too much. I need to make sure they take vacations.”
Software quality engineer lead • San Jose, California, USA
When Adobe acquired EchoSign, the industry-leading provider of digital signature software, Mamatha’s close-knit team of three engineers was excited about the change. But as the quality assurance lead, Mamatha had a few lingering questions: Will the policies be more formal? Will there be delays in approvals? Will it take longer to get work done?
“We tripled in size when we joined the Adobe team, which meant more responsibility and challenge,” she says. “But so far, the fears I had have not been realized.”
Mamatha says she’s enjoying the great benefits: popping into the Adobe gym at lunch, easy access to resources like laptops and devices for her team, and Adobe social activities like exercise challenges and tree planting with the Adobe Green Club.
“There are things that aren’t available in the startup culture,” she says. “The insurance, the $10,000 USD educational benefits, the ability to expand my social network—this culture is really perfect for me.”