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By Sarah Roach and Nat Rubio-Licht
September 16, 2022

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Good morning! The design world was buzzing — and not necessarily in a good way — after news broke that Adobe is to acquire Figma. But CEO Dylan Field insists that the takeover is for the best.

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Figma's big deal

 

Adobe announced yesterday that it is buying Figma in a deal potentially worth $20 billion. Where does that leave Figma users?

The deal makes sense for Adobe. Since its launch 10 years ago, Figma has been snatching up Adobe’s users. The platform has become an essential tool for designers, even attracting heavy-hitters like Microsoft, which had long been a loyal Adobe customer.

  • "With access to @Adobe's deep expertise and technology, we believe @Figma will be able to achieve our vision of 'making design accessible to all' even faster," Figma CEO Dylan Field tweeted yesterday.

But users worry it won't make sense for them, Protocol’s Lizzy Lawrence reports. Though Adobe is a staple in the world of design, its clunky collaboration tools don’t hold a candle to Figma’s, according to people she talked to.

  • Design Twitter whipped itself into a frenzy, with people mentioning Adobe's high prices and reputation for mistreating customers trying to cancel subscriptions.
  • “While I love some Adobe products, Adobe has taken some particularly cavalier approaches towards their customers, in my opinion,” Michael McWatters, director of product design at HBO Max, told Lizzy. “Whereas Figma has always been particularly customer-centric.”
  • Several designers also took to Twitter, either to complain or post memes, and some were quick to dig up a January 2021 tweet from Field: “Our goal is to be Figma not Adobe.”

So what happens now? Field said he doesn’t want Figma to lose what makes it Figma, but the opportunity to merge Adobe’s vast product suite and reach with Figma’s collaboration capabilities is exciting, he said.

Users worry that Figma runs the risk of Adobe stymieing its innovation. But Field thinks these designers are missing the forest for the trees. “It’s unfortunate that people don’t see that quite yet, but also it’s to be expected,” he said. “I went in knowing that this might be mixed in its reception, to put it mildly.”


— Nat Rubio-Licht
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California takes on kid's privacy

 

California just became the first state to sign a major bill establishing guidelines on the way tech platforms treat minors, outpacing Congress’s efforts in dealing with kid’s privacy.

The new legislation requires tech platforms to turn on the highest privacy settings by default for children and provide a “data protection impact assessment” to the state attorney before offering new services, products or features to kids, among other things.

  • If the bill sounds familiar, it’s because the U.K. passed a similar one first just last year.
  • In the year since that legislation passed, Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks said companies have already started to redesign their products “in children’s best interests.”
  • TikTok had rolled out age-based safety ratings earlier this year, and Instagram is trying to limit inappropriate content for kids under 16 years old.

The bill doesn’t only affect big tech companies like TikTok and Meta. It deals with any business “with an online presence” … which is a lot of businesses.

  • Some groups, like TechNet, opposed the bill for that reason, saying the legislation would force way too many sites and apps to meet the bill’s requirements.
  • Other civil liberties groups worried the bill would make online services create age-verification systems that ask users to hand over loads of data.

Still, the bill could have big implications for children’s privacy rules across the U.S., even as Congress figures out its own online safety bill for kids.

  • The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation advanced a privacy bill in July that would prevent platforms from targeting kids with ads. And the Commerce Committee moved up a bill that would require platforms to protect minors by not suggesting potentially harmful content.
  • But California is the first to get such a bill through. And even though the rules were only passed in one state, the action tech platforms will need to take to abide by the new rules could have a ripple effect on the way tech treats teens and children in the rest of the U.S.

– Sarah Roach

A MESSAGE FROM PROJECT LIBERTY

Combining the power of cutting-edge tech, effective governance principles and a civic movement, Project Liberty is transforming how the internet works and who it works for. Join us at Unfinished Live, September 21-24, to learn more and to get involved.

Learn more

Taking on the gig economy

 

The Federal Trade Commission adopted a policy statement yesterday aimed at cracking down on companies that exploit gig workers.

The agency aims to stamp out a number of practices that are deceptive, unfair or anticompetitive.

  • This includes deception about potential earnings and costs for workers; the use of AI to break promises about pay, performance and work assignments; and potential agreements between gig companies to illegally fix workers’ wages and benefits.
  • Companies found to be involved in any of these practices could have to pay up — or at least be ordered to stop.

This isn’t the FTC's first shot at the gig economy. Last year, it sued Amazon for withholding tips from its Flex drivers, and the company settled for nearly $62 million.

  • “It’s critical for enforcers and policymakers to ensure that these types of opportunities are available to people without also depriving them of key protections,” said FTC chair Lina Khan.
  • Not all gig workers are excited about this, though. DoorDash workers and gig economy advocates told the FTC they were concerned that its policies could disrupt the current gig economy ecosystem.

The goal is to clearly lay out rules for companies and “dissuade” them from unlawful worker treatment, Khan said. Though warnings like these are likely to deter businesses from harmful worker practices, sometimes tech companies build these practices into the core of their business models, Protocol Policy reporter Ben Brody told me, which is “usually harder to stamp out.”

— Nat Rubio-Licht

People are talking

 

Superhuman’s Vivek Sodera thinks Slack has become more distracting over time:

  • “In the early days, it was fun, pre-pandemic. Post-pandemic, it’s become so exhaustive in terms of one’s own time, productivity, well-being, etc.”

Making moves

 

Abhi Pabba left Apple for X1, a credit card company. Pabba was its head of credit for Apple Card.

Maarten Van Horenbeeck and Nubiaa Shabaka joined Adobe as chief security officer and chief privacy officer and cybersecurity legal officer, respectively. Van Horenbeeck is from Zendesk, and Shabaka’s from AIG.

Dan Maloney is Landing AI’s new COO. Malony is the former CEO of Zepl, an analytics platform.


Will Fulton is the new VP of product and marketing for aviation company Skyryse. Fulton previously was head of marketing at Airbus Helicopter.

In other news

 

Uber was hacked yesterday, and the alleged hacker might do it again for fun "in a few months." Some employees initially thought it was a joke.

Elon Musk's new reason for stopping his Twitter deal? Security lapses, according to a new court filing.

ByteDance is offering to buy back $3 billion of its shares from investors. The plan would allow for investors to cash out as the company delays its IPO.

The U.K. wants a deeper probe into Microsoft’s Activision deal because the company never offered remedies about its competition concerns.

Facebook’s Oversight Board is concerned about the platform’s automated moderation. The board criticized Facebook for taking down a cartoon showing police violence in Colombia.

Social media platforms introduced new policies to fight extremism and hateful rhetoric on their sites. Microsoft, for example, will launch online safety education within Minecraft.

Following BeReal’s success, TikTok built a copycat: TikTok Now allows users to post candid shots of themselves.

Binance Labs increased its investment in Aptos Labs, a blockchain startup founded by former Meta employees.

​Welcome to Flavrs town

 

People who love food have probably found themselves on foodtok, the side of TikTok filled with recipes and restaurant recommendations. But instead of hoping the algorithm keeps foodies there, two former Googlers launched a platform called Flavrs that’s dedicated to watching food videos and ordering ingredients for those recipes. Think of it like TikTok meets Instacart: Find a recipe you like, learn how to cook it and buy the ingredients, all right from the app.

A MESSAGE FROM PROJECT LIBERTY

Combining the power of cutting-edge tech, effective governance principles and a civic movement, Project Liberty is transforming how the internet works and who it works for. Join us at Unfinished Live, September 21-24, to learn more and to get involved.

Learn more

 

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you Sunday.

 

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