Adobe announced yesterday that it would acquire commerce platform Magento for $1.68 billion. It’s clear that an army of lawyers and PR people spent days crafting the 1001-word announcement, with is laden with highly refined, state-of-the-art tech-vendor bullshit.
So let’s take the announcement apart. I’ll highlight jargon in bold and meaningless weasel words in italic, and underline passive voice. Comments are mine, as is the translation.
Adobe to Acquire Magento Commerce
Monday, May 21, 2018 4:05 pm EDT
Acquisition Brings Leading Commerce Platform to Adobe Experience Cloud
SAN JOSE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Magento Commerce, a market-leading commerce platform, for $1.68 billion, subject to customary purchase price adjustments.
Commentary: This is the only actual content in the announcement, although “subject to customary purchase price adjustments” could mean anything.
Translation: Adobe will buy Magento Commerce, a commerce platform, for $1.68 billion, unless something happens to get in the way or change the price.
The addition of the Magento Commerce Cloud will enable commerce to be seamlessly integrated into the Adobe Experience Cloud, delivering a single platform that serves both B2B and B2C customers globally. The Magento Platform brings together digital commerce, order management and predictive intelligence into a unified commerce platform enabling shopping experiences across a wide array of industries.
Commentary: It’s hard to believe that ‘”seamless integration” is still a popular term decades after it became a cliche — and one that is so often false. “Unified” is another one of those words that promises a lot but doesn’t actually say anything. (To understand why these are weasel words or meaningless jargon, ask yourself, “How would we test if these statements were actually true?”) I also love “a wide array of industries” which similarly doesn’t actually deliver any information about which industries or why commerce is different in those industries.
Translation: Magento helps companies let people buy things. Once we get around to gluing together Adobe’s products and Magento, people using Adobe to built digital sites and apps will be able to add “buy” buttons to their sites and apps.
Adobe is the leader in designing and delivering digital experiences through content and data. At the core of every great experience are content and data, which enable the consistent, personal, intuitive experiences consumers have come to expect. Commerce is also integral to the customer experience. Consumers and businesses now expect every interaction to be shoppable – whether on the web, mobile, social, in-product or in-store.
Commentary: Adobe has glued together many products to form its current cloud offering. The diversity is the problem — how to you describe such a broad collection of tools? Apparently, by using words like “digital experiences,” “consistent,” “personal,” “intuitive,” and especially “content and data.” (Is content data? Is data content?) The resulting statement is so broad as to be meaningless — it’s more of a dreamy musical theme with techie marketing words than a statement about actual digital experiences. To this mix we can now add “shoppable,” which is a precious coinage. (Really, if you’re going to invent words like that, don’t be shy, put them in the title of the press release.)
Translation: Marketers already use Adobe products for every customer interaction but shopping. After this acquisition, they can add shopping.
Magento brings Adobe Experience Cloud digital commerce enablement and order orchestration for both physical and digital goods across a range of industries, including consumer packaged goods, retail, wholesale, manufacturing and the public sector. The Magento Platform is built on proven, scalable technology supported by a vibrant community of more than 300,000 developers. The Magento partner ecosystem provides thousands of pre-built extensions, including payment, shipping, tax and logistics. This level of flexibility gives businesses the ability to quickly ramp and iterate their commerce capabilities for their unique business needs.
Commentary: Watch out for words like “proven,” “scalable,” “vibrant,” and “ecosystem.” They have no actual meanings. And “quickly” is a matter of judgment. It’s also good to know these capabilities will help with my unique needs, as opposed to my generic needs.
Translation: Magento works with lots of developers in lots of industries. They help you do stuff like charge for shipping and sales tax.
Current Magento customers include brands like Canon, Helly Hansen, Paul Smith and Rosetta Stone. Adobe and Magento share joint customers including Coca-Cola, Warner Music Group, Nestlé and Cathay Pacific.
Translation: We have customers whose names you’ve heard of.
“Adobe is the only company with leadership in content creation, marketing, advertising, analytics and now commerce – enabling real-time experiences across the entire customer journey,” said Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager, Digital Experience, Adobe. “Embedding commerce into the Adobe Experience Cloud with Magento enables Adobe to make every moment personal and every experience shoppable.”
Commentary: Sure, Brad Rencher said that. I’m sure he often comes up to people and says, “Hey, pal, it’s time to enable real-time experiences across the entire customer journey.” (Do you take journeys when you buy things?)
Translation: “Adobe was always good with the foreplay, now you’ll be able to consummate the act of shopping, too,” said Brad Rencher.
“Adobe and Magento share a vision for the future of digital experiences that brings together Adobe’s strength in content and data with Magento’s open commerce innovation,” said Mark Lavelle, CEO, Magento. “We’re excited to join Adobe and believe this will be a great opportunity for our customers, partners and developer community.”
Translation: “Adobe and Magento share a vision of getting every single dollar that marketing and commerce executives have to spend,” said Mark Lavelle. “We’re excited to be finally cashing out as the industry consolidates.”
Upon close, Magento CEO Mark Lavelle will continue to lead the Magento team as part of Adobe’s Digital Experience business, reporting to executive vice president and general manager Brad Rencher.
Translation: Magento’s CEO will stick around until he gets bored with having a boss again — or until he’s allowed to receive his share of the buyout.
The transaction, which is expected to close during the third quarter of Adobe’s 2018 fiscal year, is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. Until the transaction closes, each company will continue to operate independently.
Translation: The acquisition will probably happen in Q3, but it might not.
Conference Call Scheduled for 2:00 p.m. PDT Today
Adobe executives will comment on the acquisition of Magento today during a live conference call, which is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. PDT. Analysts, investors, press and other interested parties can participate in the call by dialing 877-376-9431 and using passcode 9448279. International callers should dial 402-875-4755. The call will last approximately 30 minutes and an audio archive of the call will be made available later in the day. Questions related to accessing the conference call can be directed to Adobe Investor Relations by calling 408-536-4416 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forward-Looking Statements Disclosure
This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities law. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements relate to future events and future performance and reflect Adobe’s expectations regarding the ability to extend its leadership in the experience business through expansion of its commerce platform and other anticipated benefits of the transaction with Magento. Forward looking statements involve risks, including general risks associated with Adobe’s and Magento’s business, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those referred to in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to: Adobe’s ability to embed Magento technology into Adobe Experience Cloud; the effectiveness of Magento technology; potential benefits of the transaction to Adobe and Magento customers, the ability of Adobe and Magento to close the announced transaction; the possibility that the closing of the transaction may be delayed; and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. The reader is cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to Adobe and are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. For a discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties, individuals should refer to Adobe’s SEC filings. Adobe does not assume any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements or other statements included in this press release.
Translation: Amazingly, we still need to include this disclaimer even though everyone has already read it. But if you look closely, you’ll see that we admit this might not work for any number of reasons. So don’t trust anything in the rest of the release.
About Magento Commerce
Magento Commerce is a leading provider of cloud commerce innovation to merchants and brands across B2C and B2B industries. In addition to its flagship digital commerce platform, Magento Commerce boasts a strong portfolio of cloud-based omnichannel solutions that empower merchants to successfully integrate digital and physical shopping experiences. Magento Commerce is the #1 provider to the Internet Retailer Top 1000, the B2B 300 and the Top 500 Guides for Europe and Latin America. Magento Commerce is supported by a vast global network of solution and technology partners, a highly active global developer community and the largest eCommerce marketplace for extensions available for download on the Magento Marketplace. More information can be found at www.magento.com.
Translation: We brag that we’re the top commerce provider, with lots of developers.
Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. For more information, visit www.adobe.com
Translation: If it’s digital, we should be doing it.
Why are we still writing this way?
Press releases are as ritualized as a native dance.
The people who write them use words like “seamless” and “integrate” and “omnichannel” like talismans, hoping that they’ll ward off evil spirits.
Readers can tolerate a little of this. But when you densely sprinkle these meaningless phrases in a piece of prose like this, it becomes unreadable. The reader’s bullshit alarm goes off; she thinks, “This is a waste of my time, I can’t believe any of this.”
This press release collapses under its own weight. This is not unusual, it is typical.
To understand what’s actually happening, you need to go to an analyst or experienced journalist who can see this and cut through the bullshit.
So why bother writing this mostly-meaningless press release?
Can we just stop? Please?