Why Adobe likes Google better than Microsoft

May 5, 2007, 11:06 AM UTC

During my chat with Adobe Systems (ADBE) CEO Bruce Chizen a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned Google (GOOG) a couple of times in ways that illuminated how so much of Silicon Valley envies Google but still hates Microsoft (MSFT).

I interviewed Chizen at San Jose State University in front of the engineering school, and we discussed the challenges of the competitive software market. Chizen was straightforward in his assessment of Microsoft as a bullying tech power – a perspective that’s not surprising given Redmond’s latest moves challenging Adobe’s strongholds in PDF, Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash/Flex. But when I asked about Google, and the prospect that its software-as-a-service strategy could also pose a threat to Adobe, Chizen turned lighthearted.

That’s when he described Google as sort of a shield. When Microsoft’s firing missiles at Adobe, Chizen said, it’s nice to see Google announce another new service that targets Microsoft’s stranglehold on productivity software. Chizen feels like that takes a little heat off of Adobe by forcing Microsoft to watch its back. I bet a lot of Silicon Valley companies feel that way.

There are downsides to having Google around, however. One of the main ones Chizen touched on was hiring; Google is a major force sucking up the global supply of engineering talent. I mentioned to Chizen that I’d heard Google doesn’t pay that well, which caused him to chuckle and say I had it wrong. He was quick to say that Adobe was doing pretty well netting its share of fresh engineering talent, but he also cracked a joke – considering Google’s free WiFi-equipped rides to work, free gourmet meals, and one day a week to work on personal projects, he was thinking about asking Google CEO Eric Schmidt for a job himself. (Again, this was just a joke.)

Jokes aside, Chizen said Google is in its honeymoon stage where everything’s going well, but sooner or later it’s going to have to behave like a grown up company. For the sake of your hiring efforts, I quipped, I bet you’re hoping it’s sooner.