Microsoft and Adobe leadership meet secretly to talk- I wonder what about!

Posted on October 8, 2010

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A couple of years ago Microsoft was looking hard at Adobe, but things just didn’t work out. Oh how the times are a’changin! With the rift between Apple and Adobe (see Steve Jobs article about Adobe on Mobile redirect Archives), it seems that the timing (and the government) might be more flexible this time around. Yet, I wonder where Google is?

(New York Times) Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, recently showed up with a small entourage of deputies at Adobe’s offices to hold a secret meeting with Adobe’s chief executive, Shantanu Narayen.

The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, covered a number of topics, but one of the main thrusts of the discussion was Apple and its control of the mobile phone market and how the two companies could team up in the battle against Apple. A possible acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft were among the options.

The New York Times learned about the meetings through employees and consultants to the companies who were involved in the discussions that took place or familiar with their organization, all of whom asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly by Microsoft or Adobe. Those involved in the meeting, from its logistical set up to the discussion that took place,   were instructed to stay  quiet about the two companies holding council.

In the past, Adobe and Microsoft have been rivals with competing software and the companies became really combative in 2007 when Microsoft began promoting  Silverlight, its software plug-in for the Web that directly competes with Adobe Flash.

Holly Campbell, senior director of Adobe’s corporate communications, did not deny the meeting took place when asked via e-mail. “Adobe and Microsoft share millions of customers around the world and the C.E.O.’s of the two companies do meet from time to time,” she said. “However, we do not publicly comment on the timing or topics of their private meetings.”

Microsoft said it did not “comment on rumors/speculation.”

One person familiar with the discussion said the two companies had talked about the blockade that Apple’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, had placed on Adobe’s Flash software for its hand-held devices and whether a partnership by Adobe and Microsoft could fend off Apple, which continues to grow at juggernaut speeds.

Another person with knowledge of the talks  explained that Microsoft had courted Adobe several years ago. But the deal never moved past informal talks as Microsoft feared that theJustice Department would most likely block the acquisition on antitrust grounds.

This person noted that at the time, Microsoft was the dominant force in technology andGoogle and Apple were not the giants they are today.

Randal C. Picker, a professor of law of the University of Chicago, said in a telephone interview that the technology landscape was drastically different now and that an acquisition or partnership of this nature would likely not be halted.

“There’s not a question that the atmospherics of Microsoft are much more different that they were a decade ago,” he said. “I think you could imagine Microsoft being a more aggressive purchaser in a world where they are no longer an 800-pound gorilla.”

Professor Picker said the Justice Department  and the Federal Trade Commission were focused on other large technology companies and consumer-related issues.

 

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Posted in: Microsoft