Adobe boss becomes latest tech leader to bash regulators

Adobe UK Image credit: Mats Wiklund via Shutterstock

Adobe’s chief executive has become the latest tech boss to slam competition regulators, warning that blocking acquisitions will discourage investment in startups.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Shantanu Narayen suggested competition regulation could be preventing innovation.

“I’m a big believer that if companies don’t have exit strategies — and sometimes the exit strategy is within a larger company, and sometimes it is the IPO market — that will be a significant disincentive for people to invest in new startups,” he said.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has blocked several notable tech mergers in recent years and is currently investigating Adobe’s $20bn acquisition of Figma.

The CMA launched a probe into the deal in May, stating that the deal could hurt competition in the “interactive product design and whiteboarding software” market.

The competition watchdog has also been criticised heavily by executives from Microsoft after it blocked the tech giant from acquiring the video game publisher and developer Activision Blizzard.

Microsoft president Brad Smith said at the time the CMA’s decision shows the UK was “closed for business”. Smith has this week been in talks tith Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to try and find a solution to the dispute.

The CMA is not the only British regulator that has taken heat from the tech industry this year. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), along with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), have been criticised by fintech giant Revolut’s CEO amid a conflict over the firm’s banking licence application.

Earlier this year, the FCA also faced criticism for not doing enough to encourage the Cambridge-based semiconductor designer Arm to list publicly on the London Stock Exchange.