Ongoing Innovation: Tom Malloy on Sustaining the Relevance and Impact of Adobe’s Advanced Technology Labs

Throughout its 25-year history, Adobe Systems has introduced a series of innovations that the company has turned into successful commercial products. Adobe’s PostScript printer language — built into everything from desktop laser printers to high-resolution digital typesetters — helped to usher in the desktop publishing revolution in the late 1980s. Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop have become the standard software for professional illustration and image-editing. Adobe Acrobat and its underlying Portable Document Format (PDF) introduced new ways of sharing electronic documents between computers running different software.


Now Adobe technology — along with software gained through the acquisition of Macromedia in December 2005, such as Flash and Flex — may be poised to transform the next generation of web technologies. The company’s forthcoming Apollo platform, for example, seeks to combine the web’s familiar HTML markup language with Flash and PDF to take web technologies outside the confines of the web browser. This attempt to bridge the gap between web applications and traditional desktop programs could have a significant impact on how software is developed in the future.


What is Adobe’s strategy for remaining innovative? Can innovation be systematically sustained? How does the company organize its exploration of new technologies?


Knowledge@Wharton recently spoke with Adobe senior vice president and chief software architect Tom Malloy in Adobe’s San Jose, Calif., headquarters to learn more about how Adobe Systems manages innovation.


Malloy, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Stanford University, has been with Adobe since the early days. First hired as a consultant in 1984, he joined Adobe as employee number 64 in 1986. For the past 10 years he has led Adobe’s Advanced Technology Labs, the company’s research and development unit responsible for coming up with ways to enhance Adobe’s current products as well as creating new products.


An edited version of Knowledge@Wharton’s conversation with Malloy follows.


Knowledge@Wharton: Your title is chief software architect. What do you do in that role?


Malloy: I run the Advanced Technology Labs. Chief software architect is a wonderful title, but it’s not really reflective of what I do on a day-to-day basis.


The Advanced Technology Labs is the closest thing we have to a research organization, and it actually gets closer [to this] as the company gets larger and we become a more mature organization.

There are two kinds of industrial research organizations in the world. There are the ones that are first and foremost outwardly focused towards the research community and that tend to put more emphasis on things like publication and collaboration. And then there are research organizations that are more inwardly focused on the needs of the company and on having an impact on the product lines.

Now, any research organization worth its salt will say that those are the two top priorities of their organization. But I believe that if you [ask] somebody like me who heads up one of those organizations, “Yeah, but, which is your top priority and which is second?” it tells you an encyclopedia about their organization.


We are unashamedly an inward-facing organization first and foremost. Even though we do publications, and we collaborate with universities and do peer-review quality research — that’s our second priority. Our first priority is to build innovative technology and get it into our products.


Knowledge@Wharton:  Several months ago Knowledge@Wharton interviewed Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s other chief software architect. How is your role different from his?


Malloy:  Well, that’s why the title is not very indicative. Kevin is a business unit manager. He runs the Platform Business Unit, which is our most technical business unit in the sense that the technologies he develops underpin many of the products from other business units as well. So it makes sense to have a technologist as the business unit manager of the Platform Business Unit. But it is a full-function business unit. In addition to engineering, it has product marketing, product management, QA [quality assurance], all those things.


My organization is really captive to the business units in that the only way we get our technology into products is by convincing the business units that we have something that they want.


Knowledge@Wharton: Does the bulk of your research and development happen in San Jose and San Francisco, or does it also happen elsewhere?


Malloy:  The bulk actually happens in San Jose and Seattle, with the majority in San Jose. But we have a growing presence in Seattle. [At this point] we don’t have anybody in San Francisco, although we would like to.

In our current strategic plan we have the objective to grow outside of the United States as well. Probably in 2007, we’ll have our first advanced technology subgroup in Asia, probably in India. We have two large development centers in India now, and we think that those organizations are mature enough to be good partners for advanced technology development.


Knowledge@Wharton: How is the work divvied up and managed between those two, soon to be three, units?


Malloy: My belief is that every geographic area should have one or more well-defined technology areas that they focus on. Part of figuring out our expansion strategy is to map different technology focus areas to different geographies based on the kinds of products the engineering center is developing there and the kinds of expertise that we can draw on in those particular geographies.

San Jose, being corporate headquarters, is a full-service advanced technology lab. Of the subgroups that we have, all but one currently are here in San Jose. The one in Seattle is focused on graphics and imaging, and that is based on the world-class talent that we were able to recruit to lead that group, [and that person has] strong ties to Seattle and the University of Washington.


What we are thinking about in India is perhaps something in the mobile area, because mobile is so huge there that this might be a very synergistic technology area to develop with talent in India.


We are pretty opportunistic about it. For instance, we have a line on [someone in our India office with expertise] in the video area. So we might expand our video presence into India as well.


We try to plan carefully and then not hold ourselves hostage to the plan.


Knowledge@Wharton:  How do projects get selected for these various groups to focus on? And how do you balance R&D for enhancements to current products versus R&D that explores entirely new areas that are not currently products but might be later?


Malloy:  We do it totally differently, and how the projects get selected is totally different. We should probably back up and talk about the different perspectives we have on new product innovation versus new technology for existing products, because that is one of the cornerstones of our innovation philosophy.


When we talk about new technology innovation — creating new innovative technologies that are primarily targeted at enhancing the value of our existing products — we select the projects in a bottoms-up or a sort of “bubble-up” fashion. We tend to hire a disproportionate number of very senior people in the Advanced Technology Labs and we expect them to come with a certain amount of vision about what is happening in our technology area, and a personal perspective on what we might do in that technology area that would be of value to Adobe.

Then we shower them with context. What are the technological challenges the business units are facing? What are the customers telling us they would like to be able to do with our products? What is happening in the marketplace? What are the business priorities of the company? We try to wrap the context around the people. But then we rely on them, at least the senior people, to choose their own projects and drive their own direction. And it works pretty well.

New product development, on the other hand, is a totally different beast. First of all, it is not strictly a technology-centric approach. So when I talk about new product development, I am not just talking about new product development within the Advanced Technology Labs. I am talking about our philosophy for new product development throughout the company. In the case of new products, we try to mimic the venture capital model as much as possible within the context of a medium-to-large sized company. We believe in backing entrepreneurial people, and putting people in front of the ideas.

The company is full of ideas. The critical resource is entrepreneurial people who know how to plow a path that is not as well defined as it is if you are working on the “nth” version of an existing product.


We first select the people who we think have the right disposition for new product development and then we work with them to select an idea that they are passionate about and that the company is interested in. Then we build a multifunction team. It is not just technologists; it is a businessperson, some number of technical people, and product designers as necessary. Unlike technology development, it includes all those things that we rely on the business units for [in terms of] transferring technology into existing products like QA and product management and all that other stuff.


Then, through a lightweight phase and gate process, we manage those teams and those leaders through the execution of a plan that they put together. We checkpoint their plan to see if they are making progress and if it still makes sense to us. At those infrequent gate-points, we provide what we call the “entrepreneur-in-residence,” the leader of that project, with the resources to move onto the next phase — whether that is developing a prototype of a product, or doing a pilot, or a public beta, or a first release, or whatever. So it is really quite different.


Knowledge@Wharton:  How is that gating process done? Who determines how big the team is, how long it can run?


Malloy:  There are two important actors or entities in that process. Every new product project has an executive sponsor, typically somebody at my level, a management team level. So before you can get to be a new product project and have the funding to do anything beyond an investigation, you have to have an executive sponsor. That executive sponsor is the one who is the primary sounding board, the person who removes as many obstacles as possible and keeps the corporate antibodies from digesting the team when it is small and fragile, things like that.

The second thing that we have is a New Product Review Board, which is typically all those same executives but in a group, getting together and looking at the portfolio in the large, and giving feedback to the entrepreneur and to the executive sponsor about what makes sense, what doesn’t make sense, whether or not we are giving the right amount of resources, whether we should be giving more, whether we should be giving less. So it is really that sort of two-pronged oversight.


Knowledge@Wharton:  How many of these new development projects are underway at any one time?


Malloy:  Our model, at least as of a couple of years ago, says that we would like to have about 10 or 12. I would have to go and count noses to know how many we have right now, but it is single digits or a little bit more.


Knowledge@Wharton:  In terms of overall resources, how do you balance creating new products against extending existing products? Is there a mix that you try to maintain?


Malloy:  The theoretical model is that we strive for a 90/10 split. About 10% of our resources should be going towards these new speculative things, versus 90% towards ongoing businesses.


But in practice, the way these projects get resources is through one of two mechanisms. If the executive sponsor is a business unit manager, and has complete P&L responsibility for a revenue stream, then often [Adobe CEO] Bruce [Chizen] and [president] Shantanu [Narayen] will expect them to fund that new product activity out of their contribution margin, out of their revenue stream. And in the process of agreeing on how much that business unit is supposed to carry to the bottom line, in theory they have enough wiggle room to fund some of this stuff.

But we don’t rely exclusively on that. Bruce and Shantanu also keep a pool of money for [two different types of scenarios. One is when] a business unit manager comes to them and says, “This is a great idea and I really want to support it in my organization. I want to champion it. I want to sponsor it. But remember when you put my head in a vise the last time we had a budget meeting? I can’t get blood out of a stone.” That’s one scenario.


The other is people like me — executives in functional organizations that don’t have a revenue stream. I’m passionate about new products and I love to sponsor a new product project or two at any given time. So, typically, [Bruce and Shantanu] fund those out of this pool of money that they hold aside as well.


Knowledge@Wharton:  Once you have a promising new technology, how does it become a product? What’s the process by which somebody says, “Yes, we’re going to build this, QA it, shrink wrap it, give it an SKU [product code] and turn it into a product”?


Malloy:  Well, that’s one of the phases and gates. There aren’t very many of them. I can list them on one hand.


There’s an investigation phase, which typically involves one or two people. We find that most teams form around a single entrepreneur in residence, who’s either a technical person or a businessperson. Or it forms around a partnership of a technical person and a businessperson. In the investigation phase it’s typically just that person or that pair of people working on [what you can] think of as the first draft of a business plan.

The Second phase is prototyping, where they build a small team, engineering focused or product focused — not to take a product to market, but to build a prototype of a product, or service, or whatever it is, that people can touch and feel and get a subjective impression of whether or not that’s something customers would like.


Implicit in the third phase is some kind of customer contact. At that point, we would make the first commitment outside of the company to this product. If the commitment is at the level of a public beta or a limited pilot or a couple of [early adopter] “lighthouse” customers, then it’s not a “whole hog” commitment; we go out and sort of test the waters.

But it could be a commitment to a first release of a product, in which case the implicit assumption at that gate is that the team is coming forward and saying, “OK, we think the next milestone that we should be aiming for is a public release of version one and here are the resources we need to accomplish that.”

You get through that gate if the decision makers — either the executive sponsor or the New Product Review Board — thinks enough of the progress that you’ve made so far and the plan that you’re putting forward to provide the resources that you’re asking for. It’s pretty straightforward in principal, but in practice it’s a little more challenging.


Knowledge@Wharton: Once something becomes a product, what determines whether it continues or not? Adobe Acrobat was launched in June 1993, but lost money for the company for many years after that, yet a significant amount of resources still went into enhancing it. What caused the company to have that kind of faith in that product? What is the process through which the company says, “This hasn’t taken off yet, but we’re going to still keep doing it,” versus “We’re losing money on this. We have to pull the plug”?


Malloy:  That’s the function of a CEO, right?


If we look at the historical example you’re talking about, the company was still being run by the founders — John Warnock and Chuck Geschke — and they both, and particularly John, passionately believed that this was going to be a huge, huge success for the company. And they continued to invest in it year after year until — through a process of iteration on what we offered the marketplace and the marketplace catching up with our vision — it finally took off.

With the kind of “big bet” initiatives that you’re talking about, it’s really only the CEO, or the president in our case — and we have again, two more strong leaders in Bruce and Shantanu — who can commit that kind of resource over that period of time. It’s a matter of what they believe passionately in.


Knowledge@Wharton:  If something similar came up now, some new technology that looked promising but was going to take eight or so years to become profitable, what do you think the likelihood is that it would hang on? Would the market let you devote resources to it for that long without showing a profit?


Malloy:  I think the answer is obviously “yes,” because we’ve been investing in the enterprise for five years, and we’re continuing to invest. We’re getting closer to the kind of performance that the analyst community or the investment community is expecting from us. But, quite frankly, we’re not quite there yet, and we haven’t pulled the plug.


Knowledge@Wharton: Are you referring to the LiveCycle product suite?


Malloy:  It’s LiveCycle, and now it’s augmented by the Flex product line — Flex Data Services, and things like that.


It’s our foray into selling complex systems to enterprises, as opposed to selling shrink-wrap software to individuals. Even though many of those individuals are in enterprises which may buy them in volume, it’s really a different kind of business.


Knowledge@Wharton:  In the past few years, Knowledge@Wharton has interviewed Bruce Chizen twice. The first time, he talked about the period in mid-1998 when the company was going through some difficult times — revenues had trailed off and stock price was low. And we met with him again just after the closing of the Macromedia acquisition.

How does the role of your group change when you’re in a period like the summer of 1998 or after closing the acquisition of Macromedia?


Malloy:  Our group — and this is a testament to the leadership of the company — is allowed to have a different cadence than the rest of the company. We’re trying to operate on a time frame that’s very different than that of the product organizations. We’re trying to look ahead a couple of product cycles, three to five years. And we’re trying to encourage people to take risks that, frankly, we wouldn’t want the product teams taking.

We certainly haven’t been immune to the ups and downs of the company, but we have been fortunate in that we’ve probably been less affected by the ups and downs of the marketplace than the product organizations. And that’s a testament to the fact that the leadership of the company believes in our mission enough to fund us in good times and bad.


Knowledge@Wharton:  And with the Macromedia acquisition, did you step back to look at all the new technologies you could explore, or were you involved in such long-term projects that this didn’t have a big, immediate impact on your work?


Malloy:  Well, I’ll be honest with you. This is an area where I think my organization could have done better and it will do better in the future. But taking advantage of all the technology assets that we acquired in the Macromedia acquisition from an advanced technology perspective is still a work-in-progress. It has gone perhaps more slowly than other aspects of the integration — which, I think, is fine.

One of the main reasons for this — and I don’t want to be apologetic about it — is that Macromedia didn’t have an advanced technology or research function. It was were a smaller company and was very product focused, which is why we don’t have an advanced technology presence in San Francisco yet. We are still building up our expertise within the Advanced Technology Labs around a lot of those Macromedia technologies. We’re still looking for the right people from Macromedia; there are plenty of qualified people but since they didn’t have a culture of advanced technology and research at Macromedia, we’re still selling people on the idea of this “researchy” kind of organization and what it has to offer an individual as a career move.

We’ll get there, but unlike most of the other parts of the company, which a year or so later are pretty well integrated, we still have another year or more to integrate the acquisition into the Advanced Technology Labs.

It’s really not an integration task so much as it is a building out and expansion of our mission.


Knowledge@Wharton:  Are there any technologies that are particularly interesting coming off the acquisition?


Malloy:  Oh, man — how much time have you got?


Let me just rattle a few off the top of my head. There’s Flash and all of its components. In particular, ActionScript is an incredible technology that we can really add value to over time. There’s the stuff that Macromedia pioneered with the Flash video streaming. I think that has lots of interesting opportunities.


One of the areas where we have been able to contribute to the technologies that came from the former Macromedia is in helping improve the performance of Acrobat Connect, which is based on Flash Media Server. From a technology point of view, the core of that product is about being able to share screens at as close to real-time as possible.

It turns out that we have a lot of people in our organization who know how to make things run fast and, in particular, I have one whole subgroup devoted to thinking about how we can take advantage of next generation hardware platforms.

We were able to sit down with the Flash folks and, looking at it from our [understanding of hardware] and their intimate knowledge of Flash video, we were able to help them [increase] the frame that we could exchange across the network from Acrobat Connect.

Assuming that network bandwidth isn’t the bottleneck, using all the techniques that we can think of, over time we can get close to the 15 or 20 frames per second that would take out all the jerks and jitters and make it hard to tell that it wasn’t real-time.


Knowledge@Wharton: What advice would you give to a business leader — whether in the technology field or elsewhere — about how to foster innovation in a company?


Malloy: Well, now we don’t really have time [for me to] give you my hour and a half pitch on innovation but [here’s the abbreviated version].


I believe you can think about innovation from three distinct perspectives, because the way you approach innovation from each of these is different.

First, there is looking at it from the corporate-wide perspective. Here at Adobe, we have a corporate-wide culture which values innovation and we believe everyone can innovate. That’s something we inherited from our founders who believed it passionately and we continue to believe it.

So, at the corporate-wide level our approach to innovation is figuring out how to allow anybody to innovate. We have various programs that help people remove obstacles and help them navigate what is now a pretty large company.

The second perspective is product line innovation. Most companies are pretty good at product line innovation, but still there’s an art and a science to it. Our art and science revolve around a product lifecycle that we manage fairly closely and a process that allows us to get most of our resources focused on the things that we learn from the virtuous cycle that any existing product has of having an established customer base that gives you feedback and an organization that can take that feedback and use it to create requirements for the next release of the product. We balance that with an organization like the Advanced Technology Labs that can look at it from that different perspective and maybe explore some higher-risk, more contrarian notions — things that the customers aren’t telling you yet but you think would resonate with them. So we have a well-defined philosophy and a process around product line innovation.

At the top of this pyramid is new product innovation. We’ve already talked about our philosophy of focusing first on entrepreneurial people, giving them the resources to build teams and create plans for new products or services. Then we support them and nurture them in an environment where they can execute on those plans and get into the marketplace as quickly as possible to kick-start that virtuous cycle that you have in your existing products of, “OK, this sounds like a good idea, but does anybody out in the real world care about it?”


That’s the five-minute version of an hour-and-a-half talk.


Knowledge@Wharton:  That’s a good overview. What are the biggest challenges that your group is facing?


Malloy:  First, I think we have many more opportunities than challenges. But one challenge we face is that we made a conscious decision two or three years ago to become more balanced [in the two priorities I mentioned previously].

We were inwardly focused to a fault two or three years ago. If we did any publications-quality research, if we did any university collaborations, if we participated in a larger research community at all, it was just because it happened, not because we made it a priority.

But two or three years ago we said, “OK, we have the credibility inside the company to reach out further in terms of the things we work on and to take even more risks than we already do.” In order to do this, we wanted to leverage that outside community through collaborations and participating in the research community more.

So we’ve been doing that for the last two or three years. My main challenge, as we move through that process, is to make sure that we don’t swing too far.


I worked at Xerox PARC and I have observed plenty of other research organizations in my peer companies. You’re always swinging back and forth. It’s a typical pendulum motion.

If you’ve got a research organization that can demonstrably prove that it is engaging with the community — it gets a lot of papers published, it has name-recognized individuals, it is working with the hottest professors in universities and things like that — then, invariably, you are hearing from inside the company that, “Oh, you are not relevant enough. What have you done for me lately? What technology have you gotten into a product?”

And, conversely, if you are really successful in transferring technology into products, then sooner or later — and this is what happened a few years ago — the people say, “Yeah, but are you really pushing the state of the art? Are you leveraging all that is happening out in the community?”

So, my goal is to move the pendulum without having it swing so far that the Bruce Chizens and the Shantanu Narayens of the world come to me and say, “You’re not really as relevant as you used to be, Tom. What are you going to do about it?”

When I took over the group 10 years ago there was a guy, who was not the CEO at time, who had that feeling. And if you interview him for a third time you can ask him about it. [Current CEO] Bruce [Chizen] was not a big supporter of Advanced Technology Labs 10 years ago. He wasn’t convinced that it was relevant.


Knowledge@Wharton: That must have been an interesting moment for you when Chizen became CEO in 2000.


Malloy:  Fortunately, I had convinced him by then.


Knowledge@Wharton: How did you convince him of the relevance of what you were doing?


Malloy:  We delivered a lot of technology. We have a long list of technologies that we’ve delivered to the products. We were relevant before I took over, but we really focused on it in the first couple of years of my [leadership of the Advanced Technology Labs] and we developed a long line of technologies for Acrobat and Photoshop and Illustrator.


Knowledge@Wharton: Does this mean you had to go through a period when you had to make sure your group was more practically focused, where you had to make sure you were delivering new products and new enhancements with an immediate revenue impact versus planning for a 10-year horizon in the future?


Malloy:  We don’t even plan for 10 years now. Nobody can plan for 10 years in our business. If we’re planning for two or three product cycles ahead and three or five years, we consider ourselves pretty omniscient.


Knowledge@Wharton:  But if you’re in a period when the relevance of the group is in question, do you change your strategy to manage the group in a different way?


Malloy:  Well, if I hadn’t been who I was, the answer would probably be “yes.” I came to the Advanced Technology Labs from the product organization and my perspective on research is indelibly formed by [that experience].


At Xerox PARC, where I worked the first five years of my career, we developed all the technology that has made the personal computer industry. But Xerox didn’t [take advantage of it] — you know the whole “fumbling the future” story.


So it wasn’t like I had to change. And I don’t think ATL had to change back then either. It kind of had a bad rap, but the basic DNA was [there], so it wasn’t that hard a job for me. But if Bruce had become CEO a couple of years earlier, who knows, I might be working on a different job right now.

Knowledge@Wharton: Is there some unexpected development that could really cause Adobe to stop in its tracks? Some momentous thing that you worry about — “If this happens, the whole game plan changes, and what are we going to do about that?”


Malloy:  Well, the unexpected ones we haven’t thought of yet, because they are unexpected. But there are a few that are probably expected.


We’re big believers in the transition to hosted services and we’re investing a lot of money in it. We don’t have any $100 million hosted service businesses yet, but I think we probably will in the not-too-distant future — certainly in the three- to five-year time frame.


I think that’s a phase shift. It’s like the shift from paper to electronic, which is another area where we participated in that disruption. Paper hasn’t gone away; I don’t think shrink-wrapped software is going away, either, but a lot of the software business will move towards that service model.

So I think that we’ve been planning for it. Hopefully we will be ready for it and either we transition ourselves and our customers over to that model — those who want to move to that model — or, when the marketplace moves, we will move along with it.


Knowledge@Wharton: You said that before you ran the Advance Technology Labs you were in a product group. Which products did you work on prior to your current job?


Malloy:  Most of them. I worked on PostScript. I was a consultant for Adobe before I became an employee, so I got some pretty dirty tasks, especially as a consultant for PostScript.


Knowledge@Wharton:  What’s a dirty PostScript task?


Malloy:  Well, the dirtiest one was … when I came to Adobe as a consultant in 1984, the PC was not a very huge platform then. Apple IIs were still around, the [Apple] Lisa was released in ’83, Mac in ’84 and LaserWriter in ’85.


I liked to say that I was the only person at Adobe who could spell “PC” back in 1984. One of my jobs was to take PostScript and get it to run on a 640K PC AT — the whole [PostScript] interpreter.


We did it because we were wooing IBM at the time. And they wanted to be convinced that it was feasible to do, should they want to have this cool piece of software running on a device with an Intel processor in it — or maybe even the guts of a PC that they had designed.


In the end, maybe it was just a matter of seeing whether the dog could talk. They wanted to see us do it. We thought that if we demonstrated this they would be dazzled by our prowess. And so I got the short straw to make it happen. [Laughs.]


Knowledge@Wharton:  So you worked on PostScript for a while?


Malloy:  Yes, PostScript. Then I worked on [Adobe’s] type [products]. When I first became an employee, I got the software that underlay our type library products running on the PC.


Then I managed the Illustrator project, first the PC version of Illustrator, then both [PC and Macintosh] versions. When it was small, I managed the whole applications group. And then, after that, I went back and focused on type again.


One of my early claims to fame at Adobe was that I ran the “skunk works” that developed Adobe Type Manager [which displays PostScript printer fonts on screen]. [When] Apple … said, “Guess what, we are going to do scalable type for the display and it ain’t going to be the stuff from Adobe,” we had to develop [Adobe Type Manager] in a “black coffee night.”


Chuck and John came to me and gave me what I like to refer to as the “golden finger” and said, “Go around and point at anybody in the company you want and they are going to be working on your project the next day.”


And I pulled together a small team of four or five people and we developed Adobe Type Manager for Macintosh between March of 1989 and October when we [finished] the product.


So that was ’89.


Just before I moved over to Advanced Technologies, I was running all of our type organization — type engineering, type development and type design, which was an interesting job. It’s an interesting mixture of technology and art.

And then I made what was, for me, kind of a daring career move. I was at the director level, running this group of 40 or 50 people, but I wasn’t convinced that there was that much more really innovative technology to milk out of the type world.


I had to decide whether I was going to try to keep moving up the organizational ladder somehow, or whether I was going to get on a new technology path that was richer. So I gave up my management responsibilities and I went into the Advanced Technology Group that was run by my predecessor, as an individual contributor.

The technology that I drilled down on was Acrobat and, in particular, security in Acrobat. PDF didn’t have any notion of security back then, so I immersed myself in cryptography and things like that. I licensed technology from [RSA Security] back when they still held the patent to public/private key [encryption technology]. Along with other people, I developed the first versions of digital signature technology, secure document technology and Acrobat Forms technology too, although that was mostly done by some other people.


Knowledge@Wharton:  What do you do when you are not working? What do you do for fun?


Malloy:  There is not a lot of the extra time, to tell you the truth. My wife and I are in an empty nest phase for the first time since we have known each other. We are doing the usual empty nest folly which is, we burn down the nest and build a new one. Other than that, we like to travel. We like to hike and be in the outdoors. There is just not a lot of time, to be quite honest.

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"Ongoing Innovation: Tom Malloy on Sustaining the Relevance and Impact of Adobe’s Advanced Technology Labs" Knowledge@Wharton, March 21, 2007,
accessed October 21, 2017. http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/ongoing-innovation-tom-malloy-on-sustaining-the-relevance-and-impact-of-adobes-advanced-technology-labs/


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