Adobe Looking to Acquire; Who Should It Buy?


Adobe Systems’ (s ADBE) CEO said recently that the multimedia software giant is in the mood to gobble up some technology startups. And in these economic times — Adobe itself laid off 600 employees in December — that sentiment alone is bound to put a smile on entrepreneurs’ faces.

“There are small technology companies where you get some great technology and great people…we will continue to be aggressive at looking at them,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week. “But we’re not bottom feeders; we’re looking for interesting companies that are going to help drive the future.”

Narayen said prospective buys would be more on the order of interactive publishing startup Scene7 (a 2007 acquisition with an undisclosed price tag) rather than Macromedia (a 2005 acquisition for $3.4 billion). He also mentioned a particular interest in software that can be used on non-PC devices such as mobile phones and game consoles.

OK, Mr. Narayen. Challenge accepted. We have made you a shopping list. We happen to think web video initiatives are the most interesting thing you can get involved in, but hey, we’re clearly biased.

We think Adobe should buy:

– A video recommendation company with its eye on living room platforms, like ffwd.

– One of the dynamic video ad insertion tech startups we’ve been obsessed with lately: ZunaVision, Euclid or Innovid.

– In the mobile space, how about a mobile browser company like Skyfire or a neato live-streaming service like Qik? It also seems like Transpera has been doing a great job of tying up the mobile video deployment market.

Vimeo (currently owned by IAC) or These sites makes excellent use of Flash and have developed standalone content specialties. Yes, it would be a change to get into the media business, but they could be playgrounds for new video technology. Adobe also already has investments in Veoh, China’s and the civic-minded, so it also makes sense to pick up one of those.

– A smaller, newer CDN player, maybe something along the lines of BitGravity. What with the Adobe AIR-based Adobe Media Player on the consumption end and all the Flash serving infrastructure, you could even go the whole nine yards and buy one of the many white-label video players to get closer to offering a complete package video solution.

– There’s no web-based video editing tool we currently love, but we do like the fancy music-timed slideshow videos from Animoto.

– Though Adobe already has P2P engineering in house, there’s lots to choose from in the space, and the price might be right. A live P2P plug-in helper like Octoshape, which CNN used with Flash for its recent Inauguration coverage. Adobe already has an investment in Digital Fountain.

– We might have said Joost in the past, but they’ve disappointed repeatedly on the technical front, and they don’t even do P2P anymore. Maybe something like Grid Networks, which is looking to bring this stuff to the TV.

– Specialized content creation software. We saw Storyist at Macworld, a nicely designed storyboarding and manuscript creation tool. That’s box software, though. We also recently looked at PortalVideo, a simple video editing tool focused on the needs of documentary makers.

– Microsoft’s Silverlight business. Hey, why not?

Mr. Narayen, our readers surely have even smarter suggestions. So please make sure to read through our comments section, where they will hopefully correct our assumptions, add inspired suggestions, and offer informative and well-reasoned (please!) plugs for their own startups.

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With the media and entertainment industries experiencing the start of a complete shift to the web for consumer experience and distribution, Adobe should be acquiring companies that are at the forefront of this movement, who will rely on Adobe tools more and more as the grow.

I think MixMatchMusic is a great pick, as well as Vimeo.

Charles Feinn

I personally think is a perfect fit, but i’m biased i guess :).

MixMatchMusic enables musicians to collaborate and create music together, engage fans through widgetized remix promotions, and monetize their music through the sale of stems (parts) as well as songs.

Community + Flash widgets/audio editing tools = musical goodness.

George Campbell

Yea, a company like Pando will finally enable all those flash player to play no-buffering high definition tv, …and make it affordable to publish. But it seems that Adobe are looking for bargain basement deals where they can get cheap IP and a customer base from startups affected negatively by the bad economy. Isn’t Pando too stable for the bargain basement? (I would assume they actually do well in bad economy as more publishers want to save money)

Rinaldi Kopp

Pando Networks is delivering HD Video content for companies such as NBC, and works well with Flash and AIR (and DivX and Silverlight and Quicktime), so I’d expect that they’d be an interesting target.


You meant to say Skyfire the mobile browser company instead of the coupon company Cellfire Liz?

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