Adobe's record-breaking sale of Figma delivers billions to top VCs

(Bloomberg) — Danny Reimer first invested in Figma in 2012, shortly after the company was founded and began developing software tools for designers. Reimer, a partner at venture capital firm Index Ventures, invited Figma co-founder and CEO Dylan Field to dinner and ordered a bottle of wine to celebrate the deal. Then the young entrepreneur hesitated. “Danny, I’m 19,” Field said. Reimer went ahead, he recalled, and ordered a Pinot anyway.

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On Thursday, Adobe Inc. said it would buy Figma in a deal valued at about $20 billion — the biggest exit of a venture capital-backed company in at least 20 years, according to data from PitchBook. Field, 30, is now of legal drinking age in the US, and he and Reimer stand to make a lot of money from the sale.

Index is the largest outside shareholder in Figma. He owns more than 12%, said a person familiar with the business, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is private. Rimer and Figma declined to comment on the size of Index’s stake. The firm’s first check and subsequent investments now total about $2.6 billion.

Field had made an early impression on Reimer as an intern at Flipboard, which makes a news aggregation app. Reimer was on board watching the young Field deliver a polished performance. Field briefly attended college but dropped out to join a scholarship program funded by Peter Thiel and soon began working on Figma. Early on, Field told Reimer that he would spend up to three years developing the Figma design tools before releasing them to the public. “It wasn’t an incremental, little thing,” Reimer said.

Figma has amassed a roster of some of the top venture capital firms as its backers. Greylock Partners stepped in as lead investor in a $14 million funding round in 2015, and Kleiner Perkins led a $25 million round in 2018; its share is close to 11%, people familiar with the business said. Each of the early backers ended up with at least $2 billion, said another person, who also requested anonymity, discussing personal details.

Sequoia Capital invested in 2019, valuing Figma at $440 million. (Sequoia’s partner who closed the deal, Andrew Reid, tweeted a photo of Field signing the original documents, with some of the terms clearly legible.) Sequoia put up a total of $97 million and grabbed a 6 percent stake in Figma, a person familiar with the details said. Sequoia’s stake is now worth $1.3 billion, and the single investment has had returns in excess of the total value of the U.S. growth fund it came from, the person said.

Another prominent firm, Andreessen Horowitz, invested in Figma in 2020 and its stake is now worth about $500 million, according to a person familiar with the situation.

As for Reimer, he thought a lot about the dinner in 2012. To mark Thursday’s news, Reimer said he plans to send Field a case of wine.

(Updates to add data from PitchBook in second paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the size of Sequoia’s stake.)

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