what Figma was before a graphical editor with an estimate of $ 2 billion – Stories on vc.ru

The founders really wanted to launch a startup, but for a long time they could not figure out what product to make.

UseJournal co-founder Sam DeBroul on Twitter thread told, where did the Figma company start, which makes an online graphic editor.

According to him, the service literally arose out of chaos, there was no “instant success”, and its creators initially did not understand what they wanted to do and scared off investors with their uncertainty.

In the story, DeBroul used an online pitch from Figma co-founder Dylan Field to entrepreneur Daniel Gross in 2020. It was a live broadcast, during which Field introduced his company as if it were in 2013.

Figma interface

Figma was founded by Dylan Field and his friend Evan Wallace, with whom he studied at Brown University. In 2012, Wallace graduated from Brown, and Field dropped out to apply for a billionaire Peter Thiel scholarship of up to $ 100,000.

Dylan Field and Evan Wallace

In his application for the Fellowship, Field mentioned that he plans to build cheap drones. But Wallace talked him out of it – in part because they couldn’t come up with a drone concept that didn’t harm people or violate their privacy.

Mention of drones in the scholarship application

The next project that friends got hooked on was an old Wallace’s development – a three-dimensional demo of a ball in a pool of water, which worked in a browser and was quickly processed by the processor.

Wallace demo

They decided they could use the technology to create a full-fledged “Photoshop in the browser”. But since Photoshop has many functions and uses, friends have created a set of disparate projects – among them:

  • Photo editor.
  • Tools for cutting objects from images and selecting a color palette.
  • Blending images using an algorithm based on the discrete Poisson equation.

Example of a function from the project

Separately, the team worked on the “Meme Generator” and spent a week developing it. According to Field, it was “Figma’s worst week”, after which he regretted dropping out of university, because there was no purpose or meaning in the generator.

The team lacked focus on one project, each had their own vision of Figma. At Figma’s 2013 seed round, venture capitalist Greylock Partners and former Mozilla CEO John Lilly told Field that he “just doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

Field gathered the entire team to choose one direction in which they would develop. They ditched photo editing, animation, 3D design and other features in favor of interface design.

Figma is based on “three pillars”:

  • Accessibility – free work if the document is publicly available, and intuitive operation.
  • Community – Figma is set to become the “GitHub for Creative People” with collaboration features and a vibrant community.
  • Education – With Figma, the creators wanted to “make the world more creative people.”

The Figma idea was described in one document – with a common vision and goal, the project began to develop faster. Figma’s mission was “to do for interface design what Google Docs did for text editing,” wrote TechCrunch.

Lilly, represented by Greylock, ultimately spearheaded the $ 14 million Round A investment. Field calls him “a key force at Figma.”

According to him, the investor “was right in everything.” Lilly helped to understand that Figma would be in charge of the interface editor, and also suggested that the service should support the collaboration function.

In 2013, FIgma raised $ 3.8 million.The first closed version of Figma was released in December 2015, and the public launch took place on September 27, 2016. Initially, the service worked only in a browser, but now there are mobile and desktop applications.

In August 2019, Figma released tools for developing third-party plugins, which became one of the main features of the product.

By 2021, investments in Figma amounted to $ 132.9 million, and the valuation reached $ 2 billion.

Full version of Dylan Field’s Reconstructed Figma Pitch

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