He helps millions of artists across the world make wholesome changes in pictures, videos and sound in a frenetic digital world. But Shantanu Narayen’s accent remains anchored in his Indian roots.
And, as the CEO of Adobe, which makes the popular PhotoShop, Acrobat and dozens of other software applications ubiquitous in industries like printing, education and advertising, Narayen, who turns 50 on May 27, may now be out to change the very context of the world of publishing.
Adobe’s latest gambit is to take some of the world’s powerful creativity tools to the Internet through its Creative Cloud initiative. In simple terms, this will bring everything from PhotoShop and Illustrator to InDesign that helps make newspaper pages; Premiere, which helps video editing; and Digital Publishing Suite that helps make tablet apps to a Web-based offering that does away with CDs and shifts the pricing from licence purchase to subscription or “software as a service” (SaaS).
Now, with monthly rentals starting at around $50 (R2,860) what this could mean is that getting into publishing or even professional film-making could be like opening a Gmail account for many. Last week, Adobe announced that it will from mid-June shift all its creativity tools to the cloud except for one that will not be updated further.
The shift, primarily intended to help its current customers migrate to easily share, store and synchronise files on the Web might well throw up a new class of customers from casual freelancers, part-time publishers and individuals who could take the road to professional publishing - the way blog sites like Wordpress and Google-owned Blogger spawned writers on the Web.
“A significant part of the Creative Cloud has been developed in India. It is now an integral part of the global operations,” Narayen , an electronics engineer from Osmania University, told HT after addressing 5,000 attendees from 50 nations at the AdobeMAX conference, an annual jamboree for creative types in Hollywood.
“The cloud allows us to innovate and act fast,” said Narayen.
There’s more to Adobe’s Indian connections than Narayen’s origins and two centres in Noida and Bangalore. David Wadhwani, who is spearheading Adobe’s march to the cloud as senior vice-president, is a Mumbai-born computer engineer. “We are seeing a faster growth of new customers coming than I can ever remember," said Wadhwani.
Wadhwani’s personal interests includes microfinance to help the poor in India, and he recalls how he found in a Bangalore slum someone using an outdated video recorder to do a service business. When creative software tools are available at affordable rates on the Web, this can only help more businesses flourish, he believes.
To take this idea further, Adobe is also offering what it calls the “Marketing Cloud” — a bunch of software tools and services that help the business side of the creative work to help analytics, social, advertising, targeting and web experience management solutions. Adobe acquired Omniture in 2009 for $1.9 billion to help the drive.
Another bet is Behance.com, a company that Adobe has acquired a few months ago. The site started out as a LinkedIn of sorts for creative professionals to showcase their dazzling visual work in living resumes — but is now be a hub for professionals to congregate and engage in creative conspiracies.
(The writer's travel and stay were sponsored by Adobe)