An Interview with Shantanu Narayen, President and CEO of Adobe Systems

By Andrew S. Rachleff, Ryan Kissick
2017 | Case No. E619 | Length 11 pgs.

Founded by John Warnock and Charles (Chuck) Geschke in 1982, Adobe saw its first success with PostScript, a computer language that translated digital text and images from the computer screen onto a printed page.  In the following decades, Adobe reinvented itself several times, establishing itself as a leader in numerous software technologies: graphics, video, and website design (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Dreamweaver); file exchange (PDF, Acrobat); and digital marketing (Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target).

The company sustained its success across multiple CEO transitions: 1) John Warnock to Bruce Chizen in 2000; and 2) Bruce Chizen to Shantanu Narayen in 2007.  In this interview, Andrew Rachleff, lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, explores Narayen’s tenure as Adobe’s CEO as well as the company’s longstanding ability to find new opportunities for innovation and growth.

Learning Objective

The Adobe interview examines how a large company like Adobe has continued to innovate through several generations of products and leadership, with an emphasis on how non-founder CEOs can drive substantial innovation in their organizations while managing risk and potential failure.
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