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Season 3, Episode 6: Behance (with Scott Belsky)

Season 3, Episode 6: Behance (with Scott Belsky)

Tue, 02 Oct 2018 04:46

Ben and David are joined by Adobe’s Chief Product Officer, Behance founder, Benchmark partner, author, and product luminary, Scott Belsky, to tell the story of Adobe Systems’ 2012 acquisition of Behance. We dive into the role it played in of one of the greatest (and least well-known) pivots of all time: Adobe’s transition from packaged software to services, which over the past 6 years has generated an astounding $100B+ in market cap and nearly 10x growth in Adobe’s share price!

Announcement: We're super excited to announce our first SF live show on October 24th, 2018! We have an amazing story and guest lined up who we can’t wait to share with you all. :) Tickets are very limited due to space constraints: please register early at


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Welcome to season 3, episode 6 of Acquired, the show about technology, acquisitions, and IPOs. I'm Ben Gilbert. I'm David Rosenfall. And we are your hosts. Today we are covering Adobe Systems 2012 acquisition of Behance. Once acquiring Behance, five years ago, Adobe's market cap has 5x to $130 billion. They've successfully moved all of their creative software from a box software model to a subscription service, and they have bought several companies to expand both the creative business and grow beyond it. Now we're super excited that we have with us today Scott Belsky, the founder and CEO of Behance and Adobe's chief product officer. So welcome Scott. Thanks guys. Really appreciate you coming on. Of course. All right, so listeners, Scott is someone who has done many awesome things in the tech world. He's currently obviously chief product officer Adobe, which acquired Behance. However, unlike what you might imagine, his path from founding Behance to the acquisition by Adobe was not a straight line, which we will get into, and especially to the position that he's in today. In addition to all of the above, he's a prolific angel investor. He has co-founded three companies. Was a general partner at Benchmark, and has now a venture partner at Benchmark, and has written two books, The Latest of Witch, was the Messy Middle, which is a very apt title for the journey that we are about to discuss. Indeed. If you are new to the show, you can check out the slack at It's the place where David, myself, and 1600 of our favorite listeners discuss episodes right after we release them, along with hot takes and the biggest tech news of the day, and really just get to know the you, the listener, and the community better. Our presenting sponsor for this episode is not a sponsor, but another podcast that we love and want to recommend called the Founders podcast. We have seen dozens of tweets that say something like, my favorite podcast is acquired and Founders, so we knew there's a natural fit. We know the host of Founders. Well, David Senra, hi, David. Hey, Ben. Hey, David. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I like how they group us together, and then they say it's like the best curriculum for founders and executives. Really, as we use your show for research a lot, I listened to your episode of the story of Akiyama Rita before we did our Sony episodes. This is incredible primer. You know, he's actually a good example of why people listen to Founders and to acquired, because all of his great listeners and investors, they had deep historical knowledge about the work that came before them. So like the founder of Sony, who did he influence? Steve Jobs talked about him over and over again if you do the research to him. But I think this is one of the reasons why people love both of our shows, and they're such good compliments. On acquired, we focus on company histories. You tell the histories of the individual people. You're the people version of acquired and where the company version of founders. Listeners, the other fun thing to note is David will hit a topic from a bunch of different angles. So I just listened to an episode on Edwin Land from a biography that David did. David, it was the third, fourth time you've done Polaroid. I've read five biographies of Edwin Land, and I think I've made eight episodes of them, because in my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur to ever do it, my favorite entrepreneur, personally, is Steve Jobs. And if you go back and listen to like a 20 year old Steve Jobs, he's talking about Edwin Land's my hero. So the reason I did that is because I want to find out like I have my heroes. Who were their heroes? And the beauty of this is the people may die, but the ideas never do. And so Edwin Land had passed away way before the apex of Apple, but Steve was still able to use those ideas. And now he's gone and we can use his ideas. And so I think what acquired is doing what the founder trying to do as well is find the best ideas in history and push them down to generations. Make sure they're not lost history. I love that. Well, listeners, go check out the founders podcast after this episode. You can search for it in any podcast player. Lots of companies that David covers that we have yet to dive into here on acquired. So for more indulgence on companies and founders, go check it out. Well, Scott, we couldn't be more pumped to have you with us. This is a topic that's near and dear to my heart. I think we'll get into this a lot in the episode. I worked on Office for iPad at Microsoft right as we were sort of taking a lead from Adobe and switching to Office 365, sort of cloud first subscription model. And it's really been amazing to watch the transformation that you guys have gone through from $700 box of Photoshop to where you are today with Creative Cloud. It's been an adventure and really interesting for me to learn and observe this as well. When we came in to Adobe through the Behan's acquisition, this was late 2012. The company was just going through that transition at that point. I think that there were a lot of folks internally that were still resistant to it. I think there was a lot of kind of a rude awakening as to what does this mean to actually start measuring monthly active users and have a relationship with customers as opposed to selling box software and not necessarily knowing who was using it and how many people were using it. It was quite a whirlwind of an education for me. So hearing you talk now, you know an incredible amount about the sort of design and product world and you're really deep on all this stuff. Looking at your resume, it didn't exactly start with you as a product designer. Take us back to the earliest days in your career. How did you get into this crazy world? Yeah, it's funny. I mean, even when I talk to my designer friends who went to design school, they'll say that a lot of what they learned. They learned through apprenticeship on the job. And I think that the field of product and product experience is as much about psychology and empathy and marketing and understanding how people think and grounding yourself with customers as it is about design principles. It's a burgeoning field in itself. I mean, it's kind of if you look at a computer interface 20 years ago, you'll just see how far we've actually come in terms of evolving customer experiences. But my background, I've always been kind of entrepreneurial. I've always been into design. I was one of those kids who had Photoshop at 13. When I went to college, I was sort of deciding between some of the science of Earth systems, which is a major at Cornell Economics, which is sort of a traditional business approach. And then design. There was then actually a major in the Human Ecology College at Cornell, called Design and Environmental Analysis. And I actually couldn't make up my mind. So I started taking classes in all these different places. And I think I'm technically a graduate of the general studies major, which is their way of saying, I didn't do as much of anything as I needed to, but I did too much. Then I left. I graduated in 2002 at a time where you cut your teeth on Wall Street if you were interested in business. And I guess I had a choice then of to go fully on the design path or to get a master's or something like that or to go into business. And I chose to go into business and have that experience at Goldman Sachs of all places. Two years in a traditional finance job, hated it, had another opportunity there to join a team focused on leadership development and really internal management consulting basically. And it was fascinating. And I found myself again using Adobe Illustrator to make a leadership compass of how leaders should make decisions, using visual communication as a way to kind of organize information. And that was always a theme of interest for me. And then Behance was really inspired by me wanting to bring my interest in business and design and the creative community altogether. And a increasing degree of frustration that I had with the creative industries because I felt like all of my friends who were in the creative industry were disorganized. Their careers were at the mercy of circumstance. They never got attribution for the work that they were doing. And a lot of them were always kind of being traded by headhunters, marked up as freelancers, passing from agency to agency. And it just didn't make sense to me. These are the people that make our lives interesting. Like, why were their careers in this state? That was the inspiration for Behance. You left Goldman and you went to HBS. Did you go into HBS thinking like, already with this idea and thinking like, I'm going to work on the core of this while I'm in school or did it come out later? Yes. I went in. In fact, I should have never gone to HBS if you think about the progression of my path because I was working on Behance as a side idea at Goldman when I left. I had basically four months before starting business school. And I was all in on Behance every day. I had already hired one full-time designer to work with me who became my co-founder and we were on it. And I think I went to business school out of fear. I went to business school because I was trying to hedge myself. It's insurance policy. Exactly. Did you end up graduating? I did. I did end up graduating. I think the PR value of not graduating would have been far better. We could have put it right on the back of the messy middle. Yeah. HBS dropout. Damn it. Anyways, but I survived and actually made some great friends in business school and did learn quite a bit and did an independent study in my second year there which basically meant that I was in New York the whole time working on your company. Yeah, working with a woman named Teresa Amabela who's a professor at HBS focus on the creative industries. So I tried to make the most of it. I bet there's a lot of our listeners out there that are considering, hey, maybe I'll dual track and try and go to business school while starting a company. Do you feel like that's advisable or do you feel like that's an insane thing to sign yourself up for? I don't know if I would say it's advisable. I feel like the benefits that I got were like 51.49 in terms of the benefit of cost of of enduring that additional blow of responsibility as I was building my company. But at the same time, I mean, I did it because I wanted to have a bit of a hedge and I also in some ways was slow baking the concept. I was working with Matthias, my designer at the time and we were just kind of, we were making progress even while I was going to classes. So I don't know. I mean, could we have accelerated the history of Beans? Had I not done that? Was it net positive or net negative? It's hard to tell. I just don't think I would advise people to do it because it wasn't, you know, an out of the park obvious benefit. I'm super curious how being at HBS and taking this path played into the decision to bootstrap too. But first though, I have to ask, what was the deal with the action journals? Was that like the originals beginning of Beans? Was that something you did to help bootstrap along the way? You guys go deep. I like this. This is great. Well, Beans, we started in 2006, 2005, depending upon what you call starting it. And in our first product, by the way, the mission has never changed to organize the creative world. But the first product was a paper product called the Action Pad and then the Action Journal and the Action Book that were designed to help creatives being were organized. And we figured, you know, what better way to start our brand than a physical manifestation of what we were about? By the way, it was also a bootstrapping mechanism. So we actually bootstrapped our company for the first five years with very little of the capital that I saved at Goldman to get this company off the ground. You know, the action pads and journals were a big part of that as long as well as these conferences and the first book that I wrote, there were various ways we were trying to bootstrap the company. But it was always, it was a somewhat medium, agnostic, but mission-centric approach to building the Beans brand. Hmm. Both you were getting awareness and distribution, if you will, for Beans. But also it's non-delutive capital. That is true. And I think that is a big factor, you know, if we want to get into it. But I mean, I know we'll get there, but with the acquisition, a big part of the math was the fact that we had not really diluted ourselves much. We had raised one real round of third party capital five, six years into the business, which really was very, very significant for us. Well, it's interesting having a revenue stream that you don't think is going to be your ultimate product to help bootstrap the company. I think it's a pattern that most people don't explore because when they're setting out to start a startup, they often want to be venture backed right away. And so they want to get right into the core business. But it reminds me of one other business that sold something to make money along the way. And that was Airbnb with the serial boxes. Imagine if they were selling like air beds or something that was actually very aligned with raising awareness for their product and their community itself. You know, I do interview Joe Gabby, one of the co-founders for the Messing Middle for the new book. And I'm talking about sort of those early days. I mean, they were, they went through some real fits and starts and they had multiple iterations. And you know, the first two didn't really hit it like the third one did. This serial was like a, it was also like a cultural element of the team and how they operated and how they, you know, worked together. There was something significant, even though the serial wasn't necessarily related to the end product. But it was all about like kind of this fun experience and community and that sort of thing. So you're bootstrapping, you're selling action journals, you're doing conferences, you wrote your first book and then you also had 99% right, which was essentially something. 99 you. Or 99 you, sorry. Well, actually, you're both there, right? It was 99% until the whole Wall Street movement happened where there was like the 1% 99% thing. And then we had to change the name of the conference to the 99 you conference because 99% conference was suddenly attracting unwanted press. Wow. Things you don't think will happen like turns along the way in your company. I know, I know. So you had all those revenue streams that are, you know, helping you find the company in bootstrap, but you have the core product, which is Behance and, you know, crudely put sort of, you know, LinkedIn for designers and creatives to showcase your portfolio online. How did that product evolve? Was that the core vision that you always started with? It was. We knew that we wanted to help organize the creative role that work. And of course, we had some bootstrapping projects that we've talked about that helped define our brand and pay the bills, frankly. But Behance, we always imagined it being a global network. It was interesting. We had one focus group in the history of Behance. And it was right in the beginning, when we were doing these paper products in the conference, we had a group of people in our office from different creative fields. And we gave people, you know, everyone a bottle of wine and some cheese. And we basically said, you know, what do you think of this idea of an online network for your creative work? And people said, like, the last thing we need is another website for creative stuff. We have my space. We have deviant art. Right. And we have Facebook. Like, why would we need this? And we were like, Oh, okay. Well, what are your problems right now? And then people just opened up, oh, my goodness, well, my portfolios always out of date. I never get attribution for my work. My images show up in all these random places. You know, everywhere I have to showcase my work and build a network is unprofessional. It's always like a playground and different fun images. But I want to consider myself a business. Like, these are like the types of things we heard from our customers. And we realized, wow, this is one of those moments where our customers don't know what they need. And what they do need is they need a better professional network to showcase their work. And so we made a few principles at that moment. For example, we never use the word creativity in BeHance. There's no word of inspiration or creativity because the purpose of the platform is the opposite is to help you organize the creativity you've already got. So there were certain things that came out of that experience that helps build a narrative and direction of our brand. But we also realized that, you know, we had to build something that people that necessarily know they need it. And of course, LinkedIn was already around at this point. Were you looking at that directly and seeing like this product is clearly working but is not working for this community or did it evolve kind of more organically side by side? Yeah. I mean, we, you know, LinkedIn was always a sort of resume type text site. It was never visual. And even when they started launching the visual tool for showing your any sort of images, it was powered by BeHance actually. So we had a partnership with them. That's the way to make that turn. Yeah. So it's just not how creatives want to showcase their work. They don't want to, it doesn't matter where I worked. It matters what I did. And I want to have the content speak for itself rather than you look at my profile image, you know? So there were some real differences that we felt dramatically differentiated BeHance from other products that were out there like LinkedIn. I would imagine most of the people on BeHance, their creatives, their freelancers, they don't have a traditional job or a resume in the same way that would lend itself to a site like LinkedIn, right? That's right. It's all about the work, not about, you know, your history. Yeah. It doesn't matter. I mean, what agency you worked at that matter is what actual work you created and what's in your portfolio. So portfolio first was always a big principle of ours. Mm-hmm. One way to look at BeHance is LinkedIn attacks the meaty part of the market of showing off stuff you've done to get an interesting job and it misses a lot of things along the way, including the creative work. Do you think there's other verticals that there's sort of can be a BeHance for this field that are still to be built? Well, I do think that there's a void of attribution generally speaking in the world. I don't think that the actual people who do work get sufficient credit. I think it's usually the companies or agencies that employ them. I mean, even look at a website. I mean, why isn't there an extension in every browser that shows you the actual development team that did the work to power the product that you're using so that they get attribution for their work and therefore get career opportunity based on the quality of their work? I think it's also fascinating that in some ways every portfolio is a lie because if I have a portfolio of work, I have images that were retouched by a certain retoucher who, you know, and the images were shot by a photographer in the font that I was using was designed by a foundry that actually hired someone to do the actual work. I mean, there's this attribution graph that just doesn't exist across so many parts of our lives. I've always hoped that the internet would help bring some of that to the surface. Yeah, it's interesting. It's reminding me of a couple of us that said, okay, we had Karr Swisher on to tell the story of Recode. And you're kind of a big point. She made a theme there was that like, you know, in the print world of media, it's about the Wall Street Journal, it's about the New York Times, it's about the Washington Post, it's the brand of the publication. But you know, once the internet happened and she was a big part of making that happen for tech blogging specifically, the journalist became the stars, you know, and all of a sudden, you know, Kara, you know, wall, you know, well, I guess people always knew wall in the personal journal. But you can all of a sudden, you know, have a relationship with the person who wrote the piece, not just the piece itself. Yeah, I think that that's true. I mean, that's the unmondling in some ways of talent, whether it's in journalism or anywhere else. And, you know, that's an opportunity. And, you know, that's what we sort of saw in the creative industry and continue to work on to this day. I mean, if you really want to figure out who did what, the best way to do it is to root that back to the actual creative tools that they use because that's the source of truth for who's doing what. How did you start to find the business model for the core Behance product? It's not super obvious from the get go, right? And attaching to that, how did you know it was working? And one was that aha moment when it sort of started working. And of course, I'm sure there were a bunch of little ones. For Behance, the greatest reward we received in the earlier days before we had a real business moving long was just seeing people from around the world showcase their work being odd and humbled by the work as well as wondering like, how the heck did they find us? And in realizing that the best way that Behance was growing was the quality of work and professional that was in the product and having that spread. Obviously there were growth milestones that we always had that we were hoping to meet and there were certain moments when we just did things to the product that just increased the growth by a step function. Those were always magic moments for us. In terms of the business, there were different mile markers of the business, quote unquote working. The first was a successfully bootstrapping ourselves when we had the paper products. It was a pretty robust business for a very small team. When the conference was selling out months in advance and we realized, oh, we can increase the ticket prices and we can actually float the business by selling tickets way in advance. That was another kind of big moment for us. And then with the website, we started getting tons and tons of page views. And this is back in like 2008, 2009 when there were a lot of advertising opportunities. And so we were running, actually running sponsor campaigns through the network as a way to bootstrap the company as well. And that was a real revenue stream. And that was exciting because it was like, wow, we can actually, you know, sign a six-figure deal with the brand because they all want to be associated with the creative world at work and have a business there. Although in the back of my mind, I always said, I want to get the heck out of that business. I didn't love advertising. And nor did I like the process of sales and advertising per se. But I would say that things really started to work when we started to have a premium product for our members. So we launched a product called ProSight, which is now Adobe Portfolio. But that's like a monthly portfolio product that also, it powers a portfolio in your own personal domain name, but keeps it in sync with the platform so that you can kind of have an incredibly customized personal portfolio that always has the same work as Behan, so other people can actually find your work. So that was like the first real product in the job-posting board was actually a pretty good business. So those are the things that were like, okay, this is growing month to month, it's scalable, we get it, it's right in the center of what we're doing. Five years in, you raised capital from Union Square Ventures. Any time before that in the first four years that you were like, yeah, maybe we should raise money or was it, you know, I'm curious if it was intentional to not go to raise venture or if it was more like, we just don't have a business that we feel like is fundable yet. Yeah, well, listen, I mean, you can put your own. You can put your own money, get money from like, you know, an uncle or something like that, but when you go to third party capital, you have to have a degree of ambition for scale and potential exit in the future. I swear in the first five years, my co-founder, Matthias, I never talked about an exit. I mean, honestly, it was like a lifestyle business. We were loving what we were doing. We love the autonomy. We sort of despise the whole venture capital ecosystem of companies just getting way ahead of their skis and spending resources. They shouldn't be spending yet and that sort of thing. And we just kind of liked having control over our own destiny. And so we just always were very careful about what we were spending and who we were hiring. We were paying way below market wages, but we were distributing equity to our team. And so we had a very generous kind of equity approach because we wanted our team to be a team of owners. But five years in, what we found is that the network was growing at all on all cylinders. It was hard to actually keep the network up because we needed to build and invest in the infrastructure. And the people that we wanted to hire to do the greatest work of our lives to make this scale properly, we couldn't afford. And so I actually started to feel like I was strangling my own team. And that was one of those, as a leader, signals to me, all right, like I should start thinking about raising capital. And it was just a small number of conversations. Union Square Ventures, Jeff Bezos is one of our angels. Dixon was one of our angels. If you are there folks that I respected that I thought could add value. And the whole thing happened pretty quickly. And we raised money. I think it was like a $35 million valuation. And this was our first kind of external round of funding because we had accomplished so much in that first five years. And usually in a seed round, you're raising at a $5 million valuation. And then you have a few subsequent rounds. And that further dilutes the team. But we were fortunate enough to really skip a lot of that. Yeah. So many entrepreneurs think about valuations. And that's what gets all the press. But what you really need to think about is dilution. Because whatever your valuation is along the way doesn't really matter. What matters is when you have a quote unquote exit of whatever form, how much do you and the team own of the company? So there's a section in the book at the end, which you probably haven't gotten to yet, but it's called the final mile. And I basically tear apart why so many people screw up the final mile of their venture. And I actually talk about some conversations with entrepreneurs going through acquisitions. And the fact that you can do everything right for five to seven years. And then the final mile happens. And you think you're ready for it because of all the success you've had so far with what you've done to get there. But in fact, it's a completely different playbook. And we went through that. And when you're doing the apples to apples comparisons of, hey, do we get acquired now at X or do we wait three years with potentially two to three more rounds of funding and increase market risk and everything else and exit at Y. And what you end up finding is it might be the same. I mean, I know businesses that have been acquired for north of a billion dollars whose founders received a fraction of businesses that I know that were acquired for $200 million. And yet the press celebrates a unicorn quote unquote exit. But at the end of the day, that means nothing. Yep. Just like you say, every time you're, you got your raise capital, like that's a minimum 20% hit to your cap table often more. So you raise five rounds of funding. Well, guess what? You sold not 100% of your business, but 20% to the fifth. Well, that math is wrong too, but a lot, a very, very large portion, well more than a majority. But listen, I mean, a lot of companies can't bootstrap and need to raise capital. And there's nothing wrong with raising capital. I think the question that you just have to ask yourself is, how do I play this for the long game? How do I not raise so much such a high valuation out of the gate that I mean, I have a few companies in my portfolio that are coming back now saying we need to raise more money. And they really stretch themselves the first time around in terms of their valuation because of the fact that they were Stanford, this or PhDs that or whatever. And they could get away with it. And they lose funding environment. And guess what? Now, they're going to have to do a down round, which they're freaked out about because their employees are going to be like, wait, you're saying my equity is actually worse less than it was a year or two ago. And investors are going to be, they're going to smell blood and realize this is working. You know, and if they had just done like sort of more level headed, easy round in the beginning, they would have been fine. One thing before we move on on bootstrapping. So you said you were very generous with employees on equity. How do you communicate when you're giving out equity in a business where you're not thinking about the exit, what the upside potential is or how, how in place should think about that equity? Yeah, I mean, for me, it was pretty easy. It was, it was an LLC still. So because we weren't thinking about an exit and these were, these were compensatory units in an LLC. So if you're, in theoretically, as we were profitable every time we would distribute that profit to shareholders, it would go to everyone in the percentage of the company they owned. Wow. What you say you weren't thinking about an exit, you really weren't thinking about an exit. No, in the early stages, I wasn't. You know, I think it was part of what kept us together in some ways though, because we were all in it for what we were building. When people came into interview with us who were like, you know, they are because, you know, they wanted to have like an exit, they wanted to have an IPO, they wanted this and that or whatever, they would have been interested in working with us. Right. You would have been like, here's a LLC unit and it would have been like, what the heck is that mean? Exactly. So back to like the messy middle, like in order to keep a team long together long enough to figure it out, which is by the way, I think the competitive advantage of most startups is just to stick together long enough to figure something out that they're completely naive about initially. So true. And then apply like their modern sort of ways of working in skill sets and whatever else to solve an ancient problem. But that's, that's the trick is just to keep people together. And I think there's unique ways you can structure a team and compensate people and develop the culture in order to transcend, you know, the odds. All right. So going back to, you know, May of 2012, you decide, hey, we're going to pour gas on. We're going to go raise five million somewhere in there. We raise five and a half million dollars. Five and a half million, 30 to 35 million dollar valuation. You really start pouring the gas on. You're not the only one thinking about this. You know, that we're starting to see a little bit the rise of dribble and there's, people are starting to pay attention that, hey, every single startup needs design from the very beginning. It's not just polish. It's really an integral part of every product. We start seeing all consumer products get beautiful and all a lot of enterprise products get a consumer-like level of polish. How did you think about behands in the market and really the competitive landscape? You know, there were a lot of them over the years, right? There was a one called crop. There was Coriflott. There was Deviant Art. There were so many different competitors over the years. You know, many of which dissipated some of which sort of stayed small and niche. And we had some interesting lessons along the way. You know, I talk in the book about dribble a little bit and how it at first causes to kind of question if we had it all wrong. I mean, dribble was encouraging designers to throw in these 400 by 400 pixel snapshots of their work. And the result of that is that you can make anything look good. You can just find like a really nice drop shadow or a little nice little piece of your edge of your design and put it in. And people be like, oh my god, that's amazing. And yet we would look at these people's portfolios on behands. And many of them were like, wow, that's actually not good work. It has a nice drop shadow at the corner. But otherwise, it's not. And we realized that the real measure of a designer's portfolio is seeing the project in the context of the goal and the product, like everything around it, like how you bring it all together. That's like the masterful nature of a great designer is how to integrate everything and be seamless and simplify. Yet it's harder to do that. So here we had this conundrum where it was much easier to engage and contribute content on dribble and get feedback. And so that was like a better social dynamic. Yet we also believe in the principles of behands as a way to showcase your work and to get opportunity based on the quality of your work. And so we actually had some deviations. We built a snapshot sharing tool in behands that we did out of the competitive thread of dribble to some degree. And then we realized after launching it, that this wasn't us. And we ended up killing it. And that sounds easy. Yet, imagine going through a year of building a whole new dimension of your product, launching it, realizing it splintering the message of what your products really do out and then having to actually kill it. It's like, oh my goodness. What a lesson. I think you talked about this bit on the Tim Fair show. And it was super cool. One of the startup platitudes, right, is that most startups die of indigestion versus starvation rate. And like you should stay focused on your customers, not your competition. And don't worry about all that. And you can decently do you raise money and do stupid things. But like, that's so hard to do in practice. And I mean, so many companies I've been involved with, you know, the same thing you have direct competitors. They do something. And then you have to react to that. I mean, it's what I hate about best practices though, because look at Instagram copying a lot of the best practices of Snapchat. That was the best thing they ever did. Totally, how did you get conviction that, you know, you'd head it down this path as a competitive response that like, wait a minute, that really wasn't the right thing and then walk it back? Well, just stepping back for a moment, like the volatility of the middle of a bit of adventure or a startup, right? And actually one of the things that really compelled me to write this book was the realization that we are not at our best when things are going really well because we falsely attribute the things that we did to what worked. And we also start to have an ego, oh my god, we're winning and you start to stop paying attention, you stop being paranoid. You're also not your best when things are going the worst, obviously, because you're making decisions out of fear. And I would say that when we had the rise, I was, remember, it was right after we raised our round of financing and I got a call from an Albert who was on my board at USV who was like, what do you think of dribble? Like everyone's starting to talk about dribble and I was just like, oh my god, you know, we just raised our money. So now this like increased focus on this, you know, site for UI designers and we just, I guess the lesson that I would learn here is that when you have principles for what you believe is best for your community and your product, the insights that you gain from competitors that are in line with your principles, potentially you should do yourself. I mean, that's how competition makes everyone better. But when you see competitors doing things that are not in line with your principles but seem to be working, you have to really determine whether you should change your principles or stick with it. What we did, you know, in a bad way, certain times in a good way and other times is navigating that difference. And that was the tough lesson we learned with this sort of snapshot sharing tool on Behance that we ended up killing because our principle was that nothing would be better than a source of truth for the work that people created and like a truthful way of showing it. And you know what? And that was the right call because Behance, you know, dwarfs dribble in terms of its reach and size now, even though dribble actually still is a thriving ecosystem for a niche community of designers. And I think that there's actually a place for both. And most of our members are, you know, have a portfolio on or a page on dribble. And that's great. And when people actually ask me where they should put their work, I'm like, put it freaking everywhere. You want it everywhere and they'll see where it performs best and then spend your energy there. So if you could go back and talk to yourself in the past at the moment where you're making that decision, hey, we're going to fork off a piece of the team and start building this competitive product. Would you do it again? Was that less an important or would you save yourself the trouble? It's hard to ever regret lessons learned in the middle, right? Because I think they made me who I am. They gave me this point of view. Hey, I wouldn't have had that chapter right in the book. And I know that experience. So, but it has taught me about for an approach for dealing with competitive pressure, which is channeling it for us to spend more energy and time on the things that adhere or are in line with our principles for the product. And when teams ask me now, do I quit it or do I stick with it? It's always a question back to them of whether the conviction they have in the end state of what they're building is greater or less as a result of what they learned so far in the product and in the process. If the conviction is greater, if you were like, oh my gosh, even more than ever, I know the world's going to be this way, stick with it regardless of who else is doing what and how hard it is and how hopeless you feel. Don't quit. However, if you're starting to compromise in that conviction a little bit, you're like, actually, we've learned this and that. And this is actually not what we realize and maybe the market isn't as big as we thought or whatever. Then quit and do something different. I mean, life is short. If you have a good team of people together, apply them towards an entirely different idea. My way of thinking about this is always like, if you think about the totality of your, whatever you want to call it, user growth, revenue, whatever is success in your product, and you think about that as a curve over time and just think about what area under the curve have you already achieved? Is the majority of the area under the curve in the future or is it in the past? And this is a cool way to focus that more on the customers and the market for the product. All right. So let's go back to the story. So in May of 2012, you raised this money. December, the news breaks that you guys have sold the company to Adobe. How did that conversation start and when did it start? Well, it was always a relationship. We're getting into a fun area here of how you build ongoing relationships with potential acquires in an appropriate way. We were never interested in selling our business. In the first few conversations we had over a four-year period with Adobe. And some of these conversations yielded potential partnerships that would, in one case, we had a million dollar deal on the table to power a network for Adobe and then eventually even with lawyers in the room. Some of them are like, wait a second, we can't do this. We can't have all of our customer data owned by a third party if we ever want to go into a subscription model. So it was an interesting four-year experience getting to know the company and always sharing updates. I would share updates with various companies that we could have partnerships with like Autodesk, Adobe, LinkedIn, where I would connect with folks and send them, hey, FYI, here is the investor newsletter. We sent out, just give you a sense of our progress, love to find more ways to work together, things like that are important. And then when it came down to the fourth year and this relationship with Adobe in particular, the company had made the decision to go to subscription. The person who led digital media at the time, a guy named David Woodwani, and now he's CEO of AppDynamics and led them through their acquisition. And he kind of came to me and said, we are all in on this. And we actually believe that Behan's wouldn't necessarily just be a marketing channel anymore or a cool kind of community for our customers. It would actually be at the center of Creative Cloud. This is how we're going to build an active user base of customers, is how we're going to know who's using what tool and how to make sure that we build them enduring business that has high engagement. And that was super interesting to me because then suddenly I felt like, wow, we could be at the core of a very exciting business, we could build our products into the actual tools people used to create. And I love the culture of Adobe. I like the people that I was talking to there. Everyone seemed to be there because they liked making things for creative people, just like us as opposed to being there because they have the flashy headlines. And so it just felt like I was starting to check off all the boxes. I felt like we had found a place where our team would be valued in place at the center rather than treat it as an appendage. I felt like it was a company that embraced new DNA and innovation as opposed to stifling it. I felt like the mission was very aligned to help creatives be successful. And then from a standpoint of economics, when we started talking about that, I went through that apples to apples comparison that we talked about earlier where, yes, we could have raised a series B and then a series C and we could have maybe had a much larger exit, but then we would have had much greater dilution and greater market risk. And when I did all the math in terms of how many, how much we'd have to increase the option pools and how many more people we'd have to hire and how much more dilution we would have. And like everything else, I realized it was basically apples to apples. It didn't really, it kind of negated that part of the equation. So it was really about where we wanted to work. That's so interesting to think about. Just modeling out what every existing shareholder's equity is, deluded 20, 25% by another round of financing plus another 10, 15% for an option pool. You start looking at the hurdle you have to clear. I mean, that's, it gets serious. Per round you raise. Like you're saying, you got to raise two rounds, double that. For the people involved, you realize that $150 million valuation or acquisition is maybe the same as a $600 million acquisition or even more. What was helpful to me was to go through that exercise long enough to realize, all right, you know what? This is not about that at this point. This is not about the potential future return that's greater. I mean, this is really about what we want to do for our customers or if we want to do for our team, like how we want to work together and feel like we have a few more chapters ahead of us. What was USB and, and your other venture investors or people who had invested in the, in the past round? What was their reaction to all this? They were very supportive because they, I mean, USB is just one of the greatest firms in terms of how founder friendly they are and focused on doing what's best for, for us and for our team. They went even further. I wanted to make some changes on the cap chart of our company to incentivize some people who had recently joined us who had not had any vested equity and who were about to maybe get another grant in six months or whatever. I wanted to synthetically kind of orientate the entire team to feel like they could get the outcome in three years that they would have gotten had we say to private company. That took some maneuvering of the cap chart and some generosity from our investors. I went to you and his car ventures and said, listen, I'll take this out of my pocket. I want you to take some out of your pocket. We took, I forget what it was, maybe it was like $10 million or something off the top of the entire transaction. I was able to use that across our cap chart to make certain people whole and give certain people equity or cash in the deal that would vest over a period of time that they would have otherwise not, not received. They were super flexible in that sense. I remember, they got a five X plus return or something like that in the 12 month period. That's a pretty good IRR. I don't think there was any complaint on that front. I think that obviously they had higher hopes for us to stick with it and grow even further. But at the end of the day, they wanted to do it was best for us and they understood our logic. Let's talk about what Beans was able to do then within Adobe. As you mentioned, being at the core of, I didn't realize that Adobe had already committed to go all in on subscription before they bought you guys. This decision completely transforms Adobe and the proof is in the pudding over the last five years. The stock price is up five X. Talk a little bit about that. First of all, at the center of that is being able to ship updates and features and value to customers every month as opposed to once every 18 months. It is an absolute no-brainer in terms of both the customer value, what customers are actually getting in this modern world where it's more than just a desktop product. It's software that works across different devices that you can pick up where you left off. It opens up a whole world of possibility for how we can build the creative products of the future across new mediums and that sort of stuff. Especially now with the roadmap, goodness. If we didn't have creative cloud to build on top of, I don't know what the future of creative would look like, but it would not be pretty. The software as a service business is also an easier business to understand from an investor perspective. It's really about conversion and retention. It's not about these crazy sales cycles every 18 months that could go any which way. It creates more regularity in the business, which obviously investors have valued. It's one of those moments in the business that I can't take credit for the decision that happened before I joined. It was a great decision by the leadership to build a better business for Adobe as well as for investors, but more importantly, just build a platform as a service for customers where they could just get updates all the time every day wherever they are and be connected. I think that's the future. Before this transition, I would imagine a huge, huge portion of Adobe's business was dependent on negotiations with large users of Adobe software, WPP or whatever agency. I'm sure there are hundreds of big users even accompanying themselves around the world that would come up for renegotiations every couple of years and then it would be like, okay, well, what's the price that you're going to charge per seat for the next four years of the right to use Photoshop? Switching that over to the subscription model, like you're saying, it's so much more predictable, but also lets you deliver a lot more value and reorient the company around that. The way I like to look at it is if you were starting a company today that was delivering any type of software experience to any group of people that wanted to collaborate, to work across devices, you of course would make it a service. No one would create desktop software anymore. It's hard to do for a big company that had a traditional business model. Totally. I mean, this is like Adobe's at this point probably close to a 30 plus year old company, right? Right. I love the idea. First of all, I'm very passionate building for creative people and I just think about our world today. Labor is being increasingly commoditized and automated. The pricing labor is going down. The rise of the machines, artificial intelligence, everything else that's happening. That creativity is the most uniquely human trait there is. I believe that design should be taught as a form of literacy in school, just like you learn penmanship and how to write and read. I think that it's one of the things, one of the few things that can just make everyone stand out at work on social, in any part of their life. I mean, at the end of the day, it's going to be about creativity. I always tell my team, so we've got not only an opportunity obviously, but we have a responsibility. We've got to figure this stuff out. Usher in this next generation of creative products. I'm just grateful that Creative Cloud is a better business model because at the end of the day, we just have to get people to convert to tools and retain. It's very straightforward. So better business model. And you've alluded a few times to sort of integrations and positioning behands at the center. Can you talk about what that actually looks like from a product perspective where it's evolved to today and sort of how is the acquisition of one plus one equals three where Adobe is able to do things they weren't able to do before and behands is able to be more than it could ever be? Yeah, I think it's on a number of fronts. I think it's a go-to-market level. It's a product level and it's a people level. On the go-to-market side, obviously knowing, you know, having a reach of tons of people that are on behands showing their work that have an Adobe ID that may have been like pirating Photoshop for the last 10 years of their life. But having a relationship with them so they can start to see the features of the new Photoshop and they can start to discover projects made with the new Photoshop. And there's obviously a creative graph we built that Adobe can leverage in so many ways on a go-to-market level. On a product level, starting to think about, okay, you're in Lightroom. How do you publish all an album of photos as a project on Behands with one click? And how do you show work in progress in Photoshop with one click? So there were a lot of product integrations that were really central. But on the people level, you know, and I'm somewhat biased on this front, but there are now people that were in our team in Behands that came in in December of 2012 that are now scattered throughout the company. We had basically no attrition for the first three years. And then even four or five years in, a lot of our initial team is still here because we like working with each other because we continue to make an impact. The company continues to do very well. And we still feel like we're in the early endings of some of the possibilities. So it's a good story in that sense. And everyone talks about unicorns as like companies that are billion dollar evaluation, blah, blah, blah. I actually think one of the real unicorns in the world is like an acquisition that actually works. Where people stick together and they continue to make an impact because usually it's not as nice of a story. It's funny. I mean, that's the reason we started this show. I was going to say, when we first set out to the show, Scott, in our first few episodes, when nobody listened, the tagline for the show was a podcast about acquisitions that actually went well. And then you realize you didn't have enough stories. Seriously. I got one more. And this one kind of before moving on to your journey since the acquisition has the growth post acquisition of the BeHance product alone, not sort of considering all the advantages to Adobe accelerated and has the product hockey sticked after the acquisition. Yeah. I mean, we were maybe a little over a million users of the platform at acquisition. Now we're over 15 million and growing rapidly. So I think that I attribute that both to our positioning within Adobe as well as just the continued work of the BeHance team, building out a great product. There's such a still, it's crazy, but still I feel like in the tech and startup world, the power of distribution is not fully understood or underappreciated. As you were saying, describing BeHance's role within the creative cloud, all of a sudden, if you've got a publish to behance button in Photoshop, that's the best form of distribution you could have ever asked for, right? Yes, in theory, what I would say in practice is that it's hard to integrate in the right way into tools that have been working in a certain way for 25 years in some instances. So I agree with what you're saying and actually that is true. However, what I've also learned is that a lot of the things we thought were the obvious methods of distribution before the acquisition, we're not as powerful as some of the ones we discovered after. Let's dive in a little bit here to your journey afterwards. Angel investing, how did you start doing angel investing? On the angel investing front, it sort of happened by accident in the sense that I was in the before the acquisition of BeHance, and most of my stuff I did after, but before, I was introduced to Ben Silverman when he was coming through New York to raise money for what became Pinterest, and he was building a site that was also on a grid, and he was also trying to appeal to designers or design-minded folks. And we just started having a lot of product brainstorms together, and he asked me if I wanted to be a product advisor for the team. And I said, yes. And then he said, well, do you also want to participate in our seed round? And I thought, well, I don't have a lot of disposal income at this point to do so, but it would actually be fun to be a part of another journey and learn. And also, he was a West Coast entrepreneur. I was an East Coast entrepreneur. He had, I think, a lot of a network and a lot of stuff I could learn from. So I did it. You know, and it was an incredible journey of being an advisor of his. And then, of course, when Pinterest started to really work, I started to meet a number of other entrepreneurs. Also, at the round of same time, and this sounds a little crazy, but I was doing a big partnership, maybe this like now 2010 to 2011 to 2012, I forget what actually year, a big partnership between Behanson's stumble upon, which you'll remember was a great discovery website for creative work online. And Behanson's one of the number one sources of content for stumble upon. And so I remember one fateful day where Garrett Camp, who was the CEO of stumble upon and also was tinkering with another idea, pulled out, I kid you not, an action book. This is going to go full circle, guys. He pulled out an action book and he showed me a sketch in an action book of a little side project he was working on to get a car on demand on your phone. And he was like, Scott, you want to help me out with this? And I was like, sure. Did you invest when it was a sketch? I actually invested probably like six months after a sketch. So of course, everyone, we're talking about Uber here. Yeah, so this was the fateful moment as well early on. And of course, I should have just stopped my angel investing at that point and called it a day, right? But really, I mean, the opportunity to be involved as a product advisor and early investor in Pinterest and Uber really led to a lot of different things, obviously. And I've had a great, a great experience being an investor. And I, you know, one of the moments in my life after three years at Adobe, it had been a 10 year journey of Behanson, Adobe and everything else. And I was thinking like, what do I want to do next? Do I want to stay and, you know, and continue to build Adobe and build products for creatives? Do I want to do something else, start another company? And everyone I knew was like, you have to be an investor. I mean, look at your track record. You love doing this. Yeah. And we should say for listeners who don't know about Scott as an angel investor, it's a ridiculous portfolio. I mean, you've angel invested. So in the very earliest stages of Pinterest, Uber, Orby Parker, Periscope, Carda, Ernest, Sweet Green, I mean, the list goes on. You know, for me, it's about the products and it's about the people. And I would love to say that I can scale this and make it into a firm or whatever. I just don't think I can nor should. What I did go through though was this question of should I be a full-time VC? It was one of those moments in life where I learned that just because everyone says you should do something doesn't mean it's the right thing for you. I left Adobe and I left my, you know, hung my spurs as a product maker and a team leader in builder. And what year was this? So this is now 2016. I took the opportunity to jump in and become a general partner at benchmark, which is one of the great VC firms have always admired. And I have a tremendous amount of admiration for each of the partners. And I figured, okay, let's just jump in and learn from the best and do what everyone says I should be doing. And what I learned pretty quickly, maybe even three weeks in, was that I really missed building and jamming about product and spending time with teams not based on the traction they were already getting, but because of the potential of their product and their team. And it was just in some ways a mismatch between what I loved doing and what the real job was. And so going through the process with my partnership, figuring out, okay, am I just, are these just like the blues of a new career transition? Should I just stick with it? Or should I really rethink this? You know, it was very difficult. But ultimately became a venture partner with the firm. So I could kind of focus on the teams that I wanted to focus on and still have a relationship with the team, but have a little bit more freedom to figure out what I wanted to do full time. That brought me back to Adobe. What was it about the venture job? Because ostensibly from the outside, and Dave and I laugh a little bit about this being a little bit more tied up in the mechanics. But what is it about the job of being a general partner at a venture capital firm that takes you away from spending time with the founders and obsessing over their products with them? And you think about it as a venture capitalist. You are trying to see and network with as many different teams as possible. And at a top firm, you're trying to make sure that anyone that's really getting traction, any product that's really working, that you're ahead of it. Which basically means that any additional minute spent with a team that hasn't figured it out yet is in some ways a wasted minute. That's what I love doing. So benchmark being just a top, top unbelievable series A firm. You sort of had the best job at one of the best firms. To the extent you wanted to do venture, like you had it, you had it completely made. Do you think that going earlier, and if you had joined or started a fantastic seed firm where the job was really more about sort of working with maybe pre-traction or companies just as they found traction that the job of being a full time investor would have been one that you enjoyed more? I don't know. I knew it wasn't a fit. My partners knew. It was just being in that mode of just trying to make sure I find the transactions attraction and really trying to focus on the stuff that was really already working. Without having been different at a seed fund, potentially, what I kind of come back to now though is I think I have my best of both worlds right now because I can continue to work with benchmarking this capacity. But I have a full time job, building teams and building products that I care about. And then my investing that I do, I get to do on my own. All this seed investing that I do now, it's a one-to-one relationship between me and the founder and their product. And I can spend my energy and time where I want to go. I don't feel responsible for LP capital. So if I feel like there's nothing interesting for me to invest in for a period of time, I can just do that. I have no pressure. And to me, that's sort of a happy medium. What really struck me when you were talking about your angel investing and meeting Bennett Pinterest and Garrett Newberg is those conversations came out of a business relationship. And then as you were talking about being a full-time investor, it's super different. When you're an angel investor, when you're meeting companies in a business context, you're working together on problems. When you're a VC, you're out there, as you say, you're meeting companies. You are their problem. You're showing up and trying to invest in them. It's a completely different approach. Yeah, it is. But it feels natural to me. And what I advise everyone in their career is to find the motions that feel natural to them and then do them. It doesn't matter whether they don't confine themselves to a standard job description or the way things are done. I'm proud of the portfolio I'm building on the seed side. I think it's one of the best if I say so myself. And I do it my own way. And I like the fact that I have a day job where I get to work with designers and product makers. It keeps you on my toes. It unleashes a part of me that I love exploring the most. And in this book was a way of just challenging myself to share a lot of the things that I've learned. And also in the process, interview people and get advice myself. I learned probably more in the process of writing the messy middle than I ever expected. Well, David and I can certainly agree with you on, in doing this show, I think that we've absolutely learned the most from the people that we've gotten to have on and research with. And I just jumped to that. So you come back to Adobe as Chief Product Officer and start working on the book. How did both of those things happen? Well, the book was always an ongoing project, of course. And during my time before coming back to Adobe, I had more time to really focus on pulling it together. But coming back to Adobe was really this incredible homecoming. It was very excited about this next generation of creative products. I feel like creative cloud is at this transition where products can become services where they can start to work in different ways. It can become more collaborative across different surfaces. I just think that that's kind of the moment of the product right now. And to me, the opportunity to be involved with that inflection and to really help the teams get it right was really, really exciting to me. And I also just wanted to get back into my zone where I could be doing the different things that collectively round out my interests. So there's a relatively easy decision actually, even though a lot of people are like, you're doing what? You're going back where? It made a lot of sense to me. A lot of my team is also still there. And I feel like some of my DNA is also in the company through the Behan's acquisition. So it felt pretty natural. And I told them, hey, listen, I'm going to continue working in this capacity with benchmark. And benchmark was fine with it. And Adobe was fine with it. And also I explained that I have this book project that I'm going to have to put some effort into to get wrapped up and out there. And I think that to Adobe's credit, the team, my leadership team has been very, very supportive. I'm curious. I didn't ask this. Did you move out to the West Coast and then move back to New York or did you, uh, were you in New York the whole time? Twice. I know I've moved back and forth twice over the last five years. So it's been a little bit volatile. But right now I spend my time in both coast. So we have a place in San Francisco and in New York, which is really cool to be able to say, hey, I can make the most of both of these interesting cities for a company like Adobe. That makes a lot of sense, right? I mean, like it's a software company at heart. And it's been one of the iconic Silicon Valley companies going back to the 80s. And yet your customers are creatives, you know, and the creative capital, at least in America is, you know, New York. That makes a lot of sense. There's a bit of a renaissance in the company right now where a lot of new ideas are coming in. You know, people that are thinking services before desktop products. There's a lot of change and it's always fun to see what the next generation of a company can look like. All right. So this is a really good transition. The next section that we're going to do is the acquisition category. So in this segment, we kind of assign a category to the acquisition, people, technology, product, business line, asset, consolidation, or other. Scott, you're welcome to sort of participate or not in this. But you talk a lot about this renaissance in the company. I'm curious before sort of labeling this, how much do you think of that as attributable to acquiring Behance? Oh, it's hard to say. I mean, I think that Behance is a small little part of this whole picture. I think it's all about the people. You know, there's some fantastic people that have been Adobe for many years and there are a lot of new great people that I believe Behance brought in. But it's a joint effort. No one gets the credit. There's a few elements here. I mean, I think some part of this acquisition was definitely people and having you join the company and be a part of the senior leadership team now. To some extent, I think there's a business line where obviously Behance itself is a nice business. But I'm going to go with product because I think that this is really something that as you alluded to earlier, Adobe was really able to plug in to sort of the where the puck was going within the company and really be both distribution and a relationship with the company through the Behance product for everything else that Adobe does. And David, I'm curious on your take on that. You know, I mean, before the show, I was pretty dead set on product too. But I think, you know, something that's come out as we've discussed here and we're going to have to do more episodes on Adobe and I don't know when the IPO was. It was probably a long, long time ago that'd be fun to go back and look at. Our founders are still in the board. So it's amazing. Like there's still a real founder DNA involved with the company. It's just sort of a remarkable story. Silicon Valley just doesn't talk about as much. Yeah, it's not as well known. That's why I think we need to expose it more on this show. I think I'm going to go with people, though, because this transition from package software to subscription was so important. Obviously, there's the impact on Adobe's market cap. And you know, I mean, creating $80 plus billion of market cap. Like that's an A plus in any regard, you know, previewing at grading here. And obviously not all that is, or even majority that is attributable to Behance. That's such a huge DNA change. And, you know, I mean, only look at like Microsoft to see how hard that is to go from the old world of licensed software to a new world of service-based software and subscription pricing. You know, it took changing the CEO of Microsoft for that to happen. Most of the Behance team is still out of Adobe. You guys were acquired. You stayed there for four years. Then you went to benchmark. Now, your back, your back is Chief Product Officer. I think again, from the outside, like it's, it's, I can really appreciate how much of a DNA shift that is at Adobe and how important this has been. So I'm going to go with people. As I think about the transformation of Adobe that I've seen happen, you know, I think about, first of all, our CEO, Sean Knu, has just had an incredible 10-year impact and led this whole thing. And then just think of the teams that were just like not willing to give up, even when it was, you know, not so clear that this transition would be smooth to the subscription and everything else. So it was fun to play a part. I think Behance's DNA has had impact in unexpected places, as for sure. You know, hopefully we're still in the early ending to some degree. All right. What would have happened otherwise? So this is where we talk about if the company hadn't been bought at the time and by the acquire had been, been bought for what would have happened. Scott, I sort of have two questions for you. One is growing from one million users to 15 million users. Impossible to say for sure, but where do you think you'd be sort of close to that as an independent and that you would have sort of grown independently? And then two, we were, where else could it have been a fit, which is kind of funky to talk about now, now given your job at Adobe, but what else would have made sense? Well, of course, I think that Behance would have been as big if not greater. We have an incredible team and I think that the problem and the solution were on point. So that's my extraordinarily biased answer. But at the same time, I mean, I think that what Adobe has done for Behance and what the team has continued to do within the company's extraordinary. So gosh, I don't, I can't answer that question. And I'm so happy with the way Fate played out. And it's like, I think the customers have been served. I think the team has been served. And I think are, you know, I think the doughies become become better as a result. So very, very tricky one. That's a great answer. I'm not going to push any harder. Tech themes. We've touched on a lot of them. I think one that we haven't given enough air time to and I'll just take a minute here to talk about it is, you know, these markets are going to be very, very hard. Marketplace businesses and sort of network businesses are so crazy powerful because every additional person that joins the network makes it so that much more valuable for everyone already on the network and everyone knew that joins the network. Boy does it require patience for a lot of these flywheel effects to kick in. Your story illustrates it so much more viscerally than a lot of others because it was five years before you sort of felt comfortable making promises to any investors that there's a there there. You're selling paper journals, which led to Uber directly. I mean, like how awesome is that? Directly. When you're starting a business like this, you know, it's a grind and it's going to be a while before you can kind of fully realize the. It is, it is a grind, which is a good segue into the middle. I mean, gosh, like talk about talk about the fact that ups and downs, ups and fits and starts and endless amounts of ambiguity uncertainty and self doubt along the way. You know, we had through five years of bootstrapping tremendous volatility. The ultimate challenge was to sort of mine the volatility for its gems and in some ways develop like muscle and and tolerance for the team that in some ways we just became like outfitted for the journey from all of this. But it's ironic because of course we want to like limit the volatility in a journey typically who wants to go through difficult periods, yet at the same time without any of that adversity you struggle even more. All right. We'll round it out here with a grading, our final section of assigning a letter grade to the acquisition. And that basically is, you know, the A plus of the Apple acquiring next or maybe Facebook acquiring Instagram, we all have many, many stories about what an F would look like, including a well time Warner. Um, the question is like, how do you really measure an acquisition? I mean, there's so many different, we struggle a bunch with it over the years and then trying to really hone in the way that we've sort of defined it as if you were a shareholder of the larger company, was that a good use of the capital relative to the other opportunity cost of it? Wow. You do this with me on the line as opposed to you can beg off. You could also, you're also welcome to grade. The way that I sort of thought about these as we've evolved our grading is this belongs in the A camp, so it's sort of a minus A A plus the A A pluses are when a business sort of single handedly can be attributed to multiple tens of billions of dollars of value creation, which are like, you know, a few of those ever in history. So to me, this is an A minus because it certainly belongs in the category of A's where it made a ton of sense for the company, it wasn't a tremendously expensive acquisition and what the company got and being able to be on that path of reinventing itself, get that right DNA, do the right things with integration and keeping all those people that were thinking about this the right way around and continue to grow what is an important sort of piece of the Adobe ecosystem. I'm coming in at A minus. Ben, I don't think you've, you were, we have formulated that rubric on the show yet, but I like that a lot of like, what does it take to get into an A range and then within A range? I'm completely with you, A minus here, but I just want to underscore again, like I know I've talked about this a couple times in the show, but like Adobe is such an underappreciated story and tech like seriously, like I'm just looking at the stock charts like to make sure I'm right here, like since the Behance acquisition, there's been over a hundred billion dollars in market cap created here, like, and again, of course, you know, lots of people and a scoff is the first to say like lots of people in the team are responsible for that, but like, that's pretty astounding. Very, very little cause and effect there. But I love the way you look at the world. What I would say to anyone who's listening who is going to go through an acquisition at some point in their lives is to make sure that in that spotlight of seduction, that final mile where you feel like, oh my god, this like these are all the decisions are going to affect the rest of my life. When you start to be in some ways, you could potentially be selfish or start to make decisions that are a little bit more short term oriented. All I can say is that doing the right thing by the team and also for the acquire, nothing is more valuable than every reference check you'll ever get in the future from people that either worked for you or worked with you or acquired you to say that you exceeded their expectations. And so I think that as a leader of a startup going through an acquisition, put yourself in every employee's shoes, think about what they would expect from this and try to exceed their expectations. When you're coming into a company and you're giving a new VP title and you're giving some additional stuff to do and it's like, I could either nail it in or I could really make an impact and continue to do some of the greatest work of my life. Life is short. Do great work. Find a battle worth fighting. You will make an impact you're proud of and everyone who works with you will want to work with you again in whatever capacity that might be. And your investors, communicating with your investors, trying to do right by them, going about for them, not doing something that a lot of entrepreneurs will go through an acquisition and try to take a lot of the capital towards their incentive plans and not really think about their investors at that point. Also a mistake. You just want to have that feeling about an experience like this where you try to really take care of everyone and you were fair and you'll stand behind it and you'll look at anyone in the eye that you come across for the rest of your life and feel like you did the right thing. Well, Scott, that is why you are the revered product leader and business leader that's so many very great people look up to. So great, great place to end the show. Can you tell our listeners the messy middle where can they get it? Where can they follow you? Yeah, sure. No, I mean, I welcome people to follow along. I consider myself a curator of things that are interesting to me and you can follow at at Scott Belzky, whether it's at Scott Belzky, B-L-S-K-Y on Twitter or Instagram. And here's my shameless promo, the messy middle hits shelves October 2nd. So probably by the time you're listening to this, it will be in its first week. I really encourage you to get a copy. There's just a lot of stuff that I have learned and and believe by or want to live by in this book and I wrote it for for you listeners who are trying to start something and enduring volatility of a bold project of your own. Well, thank you so much, Scott. Thank you guys. Listeners, if you like the show, feel free to review us on iTunes or share it with your friends. Have a great day, everyone. We'll see you next time.