Adobe has announced that it's buying the Behance portfolio site. While it appears to be business-as-usual for Behance in the immediate future – according to a press release and FAQ released by Adobe – it's clear that the Creative Suite-developer intends to fold the site into its Creative Cloud software-and-services subscription bundle in the longer term.
Back in April, Adobe announced it would be adding portfolio services similar to Behance's to Creative Cloud, and the company has apparently decided that it's better to buy – for an undisclosed sum – in a mature platform with a polished UX that already filled with millions of members than to try to develop it itself.
The first step in integrating Behance into the Creative Cloud will happen in a couple of weeks, when users of both services will be given the option of combining their logins. Beyond this, Adobe has set out a list of things it wants to do – phrased in the curious legal language that all US companies have to do gets themselves out of any legal trouble they could end up in if they say they're going to do something and don't do it in 60 days. The 'integration opportunities' include outputting designs, artwork and animations from the likes of InDesign, Photoshop, Illustator and After Effects directly to the Work In Progress area of a user's Behance profile.
Creative Cloud has a Dropbox-style project and file sharing system, and this will be extended to sharing projects on Behance. Paid-up members of Creative Cloud will also get a Behance ProSite account as part of their bundle, which normally costs $11 per month or $99 per year adds support for HD video, blog integration and TypeKit fonts, custom URLs and site customization.
Will Behance be only for Creative Cloud subscribers?
The question that's on all Behance user's minds – alongside 'have I got all my Christmas presents' – is 'will I have to pay £45 a month for Creative Cloud if I want to continue using Behance?'. From what Adobe has said so far, the answer appears to be 'no, but maybe'. Both Creative Cloud and Behance have free tiers, and even if a free Behance account required a free Creative Cloud account, it's no real hardship. Where Adobe could aggravate Behance members is if it only lets paid-up Creative Cloud users have access to the ProSite functions – especially as there are communities within Behance's membership from photographers to craftspeople who will feel that have no need or wish for any or all of Creative Suite's component applications.
However, since Adobe bought webfonts-service TypeKit and rolled it into Creative Cloud, it has continued to offer it to non Creative Cloud-subscribers.
TypeKit was cited in a blog entry by Behance co-founder Scott Belsky – now vice president, Behance at Adobe – as an example of how he expects Behance to maintain its own identity.
"Adobe deeply respects the sanctity of the Behance community, and will preserve the philosophy and values that drive it. Adobe’s acquisition of Typekit is a recent example; the service has remained intact while also being incorporated into Adobe’s Creative Cloud offering for better accessibility and value for users."
So what of 99U?
Behance does more than just host portfolios. It also runs the yearly 99U conference, which next takes place in New York in May 2013. Adobe has confirmed it's support for this event. Beyond this, as you'd expect, it's not saying. Behance also offers a jobs board, a task management system called Action Method, and an online store called Creative Outfitters. It also provides the portfolio engine that underpins sites such as the AIGA member's gallery. Adobe hasn't said anything about the future of these.
A large chunk of Behance's revenue comes from advertising, a proportion of which has come from Adobe – which has booked the same campaigns for CS6 and Creative Cloud in the past year that it booked on Digital Arts and other site. Adobe hasn't said if it will continue running advertising on the site – but I find it unlikely that Adobe will be able to sustain the huge amount of traffic Behance gets (90 million page views in the past month, according to Adobe's press release) without ad revenue, considering the vast majority of its sites aren't paid for. Whether other advertisers on Behance – which include some of Adobe's competitors – would be put off by Adobe's ownership isn't clear, though as many banner ads are bought automatically by networks, it may not have much impact in the long term.