SAN JOSE, Calif. — As Adobe Systems turns 35 years old, CEO Shantanu Narayen stands by the company's original philosophy even as it expands beyond its desktop publishing roots into cloud-based services, digital marketing and analytics.
Adobe turns 35 Saturday, and its evolving Creative Cloud applications such as Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Photoshop and Premiere Pro still appeal to artists and web designers who use the multimedia tools to share images and ideas.
"When you look at Adobe's history, we've always believed everybody has a story to tell," Narayen said. "At our core, we're a product company, and when products are your DNA, you've got to invest in innovation and you can never rest on your laurels."
The company also announced its Experience Cloud in March. It comprises Adobe Marketing Cloud, Advertising Cloud and Analytics Cloud.
In a recent interview at Adobe's San Jose headquarters, Narayen discussed Adobe's future, its plan to double down on downtown San Jose, its new opportunities and how it can remain relevant in the technology industry. His comments have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Adobe is adding to its office space and planning on adding 3,000 jobs in San Jose. How is this representative of Adobe's growth, and why there, instead of someplace else?
A: There are opportunities for strong companies to invest in innovation and the future. And the two big imperatives for Adobe are empowering people to create and helping businesses transform. We think both of those represent significant growth opportunities. And the Bay Area continues to be the place to get the best talent in the world. When you're in fast-moving businesses, having people where all the action is makes sense. San Jose has been great for us. San Francisco has been great for us. We have a place in Emeryville, as well. So, I think the Bay Area will continue to be the locus area of our hiring just because this is our headquarters and the quality of talent is as good as any place in the world.
Q: The average person likely knows Adobe from using products like Acrobat to read and deal with PDFs. But the company has made a huge push into the cloud in recent years. Where does Adobe see the future opportunities with its cloud initiatives?
A: When you look at the company's history, Adobe has been at the forefront of creating markets since its inception. Whether you're in K through 12 (education), an enterprise trying to get its message out to customers, or an individual freelancer, we want to help you tell your story. With Creative Cloud, I think we enable people to innovate at a faster pace. We're in the golden age of creativity and design, and we have a very expansive vision of what can be done on the creative side.
On documents, we look at the large opportunity and we just see that paper-to-digital is a movement that is going to continue. Well, PDF as a platform on mobile devices has absolutely taken (root). You think about things like the ability for people to change business processes with signatures. And we now have a great signature solution to do digital solutions. We have these core tenets that drive innovation and transformation in the industry.
In many ways, the Experience Cloud is the largest opportunity we have for ourselves. Every single business on the planet is thinking about if digital is going to be a tailwind, or is it going to be a headwind? When you think about transformation, every enterprise is saying, "How do I put the customer experience front and center?" We think the Experience Cloud dramatically expands the aspirations we have to help businesses transform. We put all that together, and we think the opportunity for Adobe is immense.
Q: Adobe has done a lot getting into digital marketing. Where do you see the company's opportunities in this business?
A: We were always "mission critical" to the publishing industry in the sense that we produced the best tools. A few years ago, we said to ourselves that there is a bigger opportunity for us to help not just with the creation of content, but with the measurement, management and monetization of content. We said data was going to be important. The genesis of the digital marketing category was all about saying that there's a big audience within enterprises where technology can be brought to bear. That's Adobe's technology. The interactions people have with institutions are increasingly digital. We want to be that infrastructure that enables that digital experience.
Q: With all of Adobe's different services and technologies, it sounds like the company has gone out of its way to remain relevant. What does being relevant mean to you?
A: We think about our mission a lot. And the mission has been relatively the same, and that's changing the world through digital experiences. If Adobe doesn't look at the opportunity with a wider lens, we will not be as aspirational as we should be. I think we've stepped really well. I also think being relevant is important, but I think having an impact is far more meaningful.