The first Adobe TechSummit started 25 years ago in 1994, when Adobe acquired Aldus. It was designed as a way to bring the newly merged engineering teams together to learn from each other and to plan the future of technology. Because of the state of the business at that time, it was almost entirely developer focused. As Adobe has pushed into a number of directions since then, including research and services, the TechSummit’s role has expanded. It has remained, however, a conference focused on the technical minds that make Adobe’s products possible.
And Adobe’s largest TechSummit ever took over San Francisco earlier this month, with more than 3,000 Adobe engineers, researchers, designers and developers coming together from across the globe. The attendees (and thousands more watching via livestream) heard from Adobe’s Ops Staff, inspiring guest speakers and their fellow technology experts. Here are our top 5 takeaways from the summit.
1. There’s never been a better time to be at Adobe.
Let us throw some numbers your way: Half a billion copies of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC downloaded. Processing over 200 trillion transactions in Adobe Experience Cloud. Tens of millions of customers in Adobe Creative Cloud.
As Adobe’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen, pointed out in his keynote, Adobe has seen tectonic shifts before in the industry — the move toward the cloud, the shift to mobile — but nothing like what we’re seeing now.
“The confluence of the number of things that are coming together right now make this absolutely the most interesting time in Adobe’s history,” Shantanu said. “And I think for all of you as product folks — whether you’re on the engineering side, the product management side, the design side, the testing side — the ability to have a canvas on which all of you can innovate, it’s absolutely never been a better time to be at Adobe.”
2. Adobe’s job has always been to lead, not to follow.
Employees tell us that at every TechSummit, one of the most popular sessions is hearing from Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, Adobe’s founders. This year was no exception, and their conversation left the audience inspired to go out and invent the future.
“Never go where someone else has already been,” Chuck said, recalling the founders’ perspective as they built the company. “Define new markets with new technologies, and the products that you bring to market will always be leaders.”
He went on to share a story about the introduction of Acrobat: “None of the analysts, none of the media, none of the rest of the businesses knew what it was going to be good for.” The result? Last year, we were proud to celebrate Acrobat’s 25 year anniversary.
Chuck and John’s philosophy of going where no one has been continues to this day at Adobe — and will continue for many years to come.
3. Adobe employees are doing incredible things — and earning well-deserved recognition for it.
One of the highlights of TechSummit was celebrating the technical achievements and contributions of our employees.
CTO and EVP Abhay Parasnis was proud to announce that members of the Photoshop and After Effects teams have been awarded Academy Awards for technical excellence. On Saturday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Adobe’s Dave Simons, Daniel Wilk, James Acquavella, Michael Natkin, and David Cotter an Oscar for the design and development of After Effects. And Photoshop creators John Knoll and Thomas Knoll were honored for its original architecture, design and development, as well as Mark Hamburg for his continued development and engineering of the product.
This TechSummit also brought the inaugural Tech Excellence Award, a peer-nominated award that honors employees whose leadership, creativity and dedication have supported Adobe’s business and impacted the world around us. The winners were: Chris Luby (Sr. Software Architect, Digital Experience, Lehi), Jianming Zhang (Sr. Research Scientist, Cloud Technology, San Jose), Sohrab Amirghodsi (Sr. Computer Scientist, Software Development, Creative Cloud, Seattle) and Verena Kaynig-Fittkau (Sr. Machine Learning Scientist, Digital Media, Newton). Not only that, the Innovation Dinner that was hosted also celebrated Adobe’s recent patent awardees.
4. Adobe is leading the way in artificial intelligence.
Abhay also inspired the audience with his thoughts on artificial intelligence.
“Computers have moved from machines that just do number-crunching or computing to being devices that understand the environment around us. They can see us, they can hear us,” he said. “AI will transform computers to be far more human-like. There are certainly aspects of it that we need to be mindful of around how we evolve this technology, but the notion of a digital human or an agent or assistant that can be with us and helping us in daily life, it’s quite exciting.”
Adobe Sensei is already leading our artificial intelligence agenda with our deep expertise in creativity, documents and marketing. Abhay’s vision painted for us how that agenda can advance even further to become a daily part of our lives.
5. This time is now: Go Escape Velocity
Guest speaker Andrew Crawford shed light on TechSummit’s theme: Escape Velocity. What’s that, you ask? It’s the speed at which an object needs to travel to break free of gravity.
Andrew recounted his journey from professional snowboarder to starting community college at age 31 to becoming a systems engineer at Google X — with a pit stop at NASA. He detailed his struggles with imposter syndrome and not feeling worthy of what you’ve achieved, and his advice for helping others who look like they’re also suffering from imposter syndrome. He encouraged the audience to reveal our maximum potential and achieve our own escape velocity.
We can’t wait for the next TechSummit and the collaboration it’ll bring. Interested in seeing it for yourself? Apply for opportunities today on our career site.