The big news from a few days ago was the fairly momentous bombshell that Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch was resigning from his executive role at Adobe and jumping ship to Apple where he will be filling the role of vice president of technology and reporting directly to Bob Mansfield.
Lynch has been with Adobe since 2005 and came into the company as part of its acquisition of Macromedia. At Macromedia he had been instrumental in creating Dreamweaver and other early web tools. Recently at Adobe Lynch has been spearheading the company’s push into subscription services – namely the Adobe Creative Cloud and the Adobe Marketing Cloud.
Interestingly Lynch was one of the more public Adobe executives who stood up to take the shrapnel that emanated from the Apple versus Flash battles – despite his work, it’s fair to say that Flash is roundly derided as big, buggy, slow and a far less ideal technology for rich applications than approaches like HTML5.
At first glance, and to people less interested in the minutiae of the technology industry, this would seem like a seasoned executive jumping ship from a floundering vendor and heading off to far greener pastures.
Look more deeply however and that’s not the case. Adobe have actually done a remarkable job of moving to subscription models on their existing applications. Add to that the fact that they’re pretty strong pioneers of both software generally and the web in particular and you’ve got some deep knowledge there. Adobe could, without much of the tech world noticing, have a significant cloud business in the making – and much of the credit for where that business stands lies with Lynch.
Apple, on the other hand, is lauded far and wide as a company with the Midas touch. But the originator of that touch is sadly no longer with us. A post-Jobs Apple is a very different beast and it’s fair to say that Apple hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with its software offerings (MobileMe anyone? Or how about Final Cut? iCloud migration issues? The examples are many)
So, here’s an outlier theory, maybe Apple’s pragmatic new CEO, Tim Cook, is aware of their software and cloud weaknesses. Maybe he’s considering using some of the company’s massive cash pile to buy Adobe. The benefits are many: it would greatly boost their software and cloud skills, over the short term it would be cashflow accretive and, given the prickly sort of a company that Apple is, of all possible matches, Adobe is probably one of the better fits.
If this admittedly somewhat suspicious theory is in fact the case, Lynch is making a very savvy move – cutting over to Apple to help them acquire Adobe. If it works out, he’s the big kahuna – working for the ‘winning’ side – and if not Apple compensates him for the risk.
Either way, this looks like the start of some major M&A activity in the general cloud space – with IBM rumored to be in market for either SoftLayer or Rackspace, and Cisco also supposedly looking at some large cloud based acquisitions, this could be the year of some massive enterprise cloud deals which could set the scene for the next five years.