Adobe's Chizen Discusses Synergies Of Macromedia Deal

While regulatory concerns make it impossible to comment on specifics, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen spoke briefly with Editor Heather Clancy about the implications of the vendor's $3.4 billion stock-swap deal to buy Macromedia. If approved, the transaction is slated to close in the fall.

CRN: What synergies do you see between the two companies' channels?

Chizen: Probably the biggest win for us and for the channel is our ability to offer a solution that is more compelling and more interesting from a channel perspective than ever before. So, [we can] look at a couple of examples about what could be. Now, I say "what could be" because clearly until we close the acquisition, we're not able to define any solution or work on a solution. We have to act as two independent companies. Do you understand that?

CRN: I do understand that.

Chizen: So, let me give you a couple of examples. First of all, more and more people are using Acrobat as a collaboration tool. But it's asynchronous, serial. So, I send you a document, I comment, I send it back, I send it along to someone else, they comment. They have Breeze, which is a real-time collaboration platform. So by figuring out a solution that combines those two programs, it means we can provide the channel with a more complete solution in which they can also can add value to.

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CRN: What kind of value?

Chizen: I don't know. That's the kind of stuff that is to be determined. My belief is the more the solution is complex, the more complex, the more that the channel can add value to [it]. Another example, [is] we have the LiveCycle server product out which helps with mission-critical document workflow. [Macromedia has] Flex, which allows you to do rich information off an enterprise system. You could imagine us coming with a solution that helps enterprises with all types of information -- whether it's an intelligent document or whether it needs to be expressed in rich interactive client. Once again, if we're able to define such a solution, hopefully we can do it in such a way that the channel can add value to it.

CRN: How much overlap is there between the two companies channels today?

Chizen: Quite frankly, I don't know enough about their channel. Nor can I learn enough about their channel before we close the deal [to comment]. My guess is that they're pretty similar, but it's nothing more than a guess. You know, some other solutions [that are appropriate]. We have video-editing and video-enhancement solutions, Premiere and After Effects, and now they have the Flash video player. So, there may be ways for us to optimize our solution around the Flash video player and take advantage of some of the streaming partnerships they've put together, Akamai and others. And could that be a channel offering? You know, I wish I could be more specific. All I can do is give you is conceptually what's possible.

CRN: Clearly, a high-end channel play?

Chizen: Yes, I'm thinking VAR, [for] the regular shrink-wrapped product [and] the fact that they have such a strong Web offering. We have a strong print offering. Are there different combinations that will make sense there? I don't know. Many, certainly, of your readers I suspect currently distribute both sets of products from our companies. Doing business with one vendor is probably a good thing.

CRN: What can you say in terms of the customer set, corporate vs. creative?

Chizen: If you look at it this way, Adobe, right now, is one-third creative, about one-third what I would call hobbyist and then about one-third intelligent document. If I think about what they add to that, they'll certainly add to the creative professional but they will also add to the enterprise and they also have a big mobility play, which is more of an OEM play.

CRN: What is your mobility play?

Chizen: Our mobility play is our existing tools allow you to optimize the content for mobile devices. And then we provide the free Adobe reader to some of the cell-phone manufacturers to make it easier to consume and interact with that data. They have Flash Lite, which they actually sell to many OEMs that then embed it in a number of different cell phones. The question becomes how do we take advantage of that moving forward? And again, it's too early for me to talk about specifics.

CRN: What can you tell me about how this germ of an idea started?

Chizen: I don't know if you remember, but back in 2000, both companies were suing each other over patent infringement. After 9/11, I got a call from [Macromedia Chairman] Rob Burgess, who was then CEO of Macromedia, who said, "Gee, the world has changed, do we really want to be fighting with one another? It sees kind of trivial, given the other disasters going on around us." And I ended up getting together with Rob. We didn't settle as quickly as we would have liked, but we eventually settled. And then I stayed in touch with him, and we have had casual conversations since then. The thing that we both realized, we had a very similar vision and we also had strategies, different tactics, but very parallel. They were leveraging Flash as a technology platform, we were leveraging PDF and the Reader as our technology platform. And, we said, a combination might make sense at some point in time. But we were busy focused getting our enterprise business up and running, and they were focused on getting their new initiatives up and running. Recently, they've been showing a great deal of momentum in their business, we've been having a great deal of momentum in our business. And we thought that this would be a good opportunity to really revisit getting together.