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Adobe to acquire Workfront for $1.5 billion

Adobe plans to acquire Workfront for $1.5 billion to gain ground in the customer experience management market.

Adobe plans to acquire marketing work management platform Workfront for $1.5 billion to integrate its productivity tools into Adobe Experience Cloud and Creative Cloud.

Marketing teams often are distributed geographically, and also do work with outside agencies. Workfront, which has a million users spread across 3,000 customers, is a popular tool with marketers in general and Adobe Experience Cloud users in particular to manage the creation, approval, orchestration and handoff of the content that goes into marketing campaigns.

The companies claim 1,000 customers in common, and Workfront has developed deep hooks into both Adobe Experience Cloud and Creative Cloud.

The acquisition makes sense because many marketing and design workflows and approvals take place outside of Adobe cloud services in Workfront, said Chris Ross, a Gartner analyst. Adobe wants to capture them and oversee even more tighter integrations between Workfront and its design and marketing tools.

"For many design professionals, [Adobe] Creative Cloud tools are the de facto standard for the creation of content," Ross said. "They're using many other tools to manage other processes and ultimately put that work into Experience Cloud ... if you're Adobe, you [don't want to] allow other vendors to be in the middle of that."

The Workfront acquisition will give Adobe access to more front-line marketing workers and team managers who don't use their fairly specialized marketing and design software applications. Workfront also attracts users outside of the marketing realm, Ross pointed out, and it will be interesting to see how the company, under new ownership, continues to serve those customers.

Project management and resource management tools were missing from Adobe's marketing stack, said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal analyst for Technology Evaluation Centers, a software research and analysis firm. Workfront had a head start with integrations between those clouds.

With preexisting APIs for fairly seamless connections to Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud, Workfront can now be a bridge between these Adobe product lines.
Predrag JakovljevicPrincipal analyst, Technology Evaluation Centers

"With preexisting APIs for fairly seamless connections to Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud, Workfront can now be a bridge between these Adobe product lines," Jakovljevic said.

The combination of Adobe and Workfront will help Adobe better compete in the customer experience management market, said Anil Chakravarthy, Adobe executive vice president and general manager of digital experience business and worldwide field operations, in a press release.

In recent years, Adobe acquisitions have included Marketo and Magento as it looks to gain ground in the enterprise software market. Last week, the company shared plans to partner with a number of tech vendors to feed more data into the Adobe Experience Platform's customer data platform. The Workfront acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, Chakravarthy said in a blog post.

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