Mono(poly)type

riccard0's picture

Ascender Corp. Acquired by Monotype Imaging:

http://www.ascendercorp.com/pr/2010-12-08/

Update 10.Nov.2011, (part of) Bitstream (MyFonts included) Acquired by Monotype Imaging:

http://typophile.com/node/87262

William Berkson's picture

Wasn't Ascender started by refugees or defectors from Monotype? What's the story behind the story here?

Si_Daniels's picture

Ascender was formed before Agfa sold Monotype Imaging. Perhaps the Ascender founders were trying to avoid visits to Belgium. :-)

blank's picture

Arial + Comic Sans Rebus FTW!!!

Nick Shinn's picture

I have no immediate plans to cash out.
So the monopoly will have to wait.

quadibloc's picture

And here I thought someone was trying to identify Kabel.

Nick Shinn's picture

LOL.

Té Rowan's picture

I'd sooner have guessed (Bhikkhu Pesala's) Kabala in that case.

vinceconnare's picture

Buy your Comic Sans 2010 now from Monotype Imaging!

Will there still be April fools jokes?

andreas's picture

So every designer or foundry with Ascender contracts will be now a part of the big Monotype univers.

Té Rowan's picture

Guess that's the risk of going with the Times.

Nick Shinn's picture

Inertia is an easy course of action.
However, I would imagine that most contracts have cancellation clauses.
Or may be renegotiated.

vinceconnare's picture

Monotype House

hrant's picture

I'm curious, what do formerly-Bitstream's people in Noida, India do exactly?

hhp

dezcom's picture

The "If you can't beat them, buy them out" policy which has been so successful with the banking industry and airline industry seems to be also working quite well to keep the type industry equally healthy.

William Berkson's picture

Looks to me like we now have three categories of foundries: 1. the non-designer owned foundries—now only one; 2. The foundries associated with primarily non-type companies—Adobe, Microsoft; 3. Designer-owned foundries.

dezcom's picture

Pretty soon, my mortgage, my bank, my airline, and my type will all belong to the same company :-/

Si_Daniels's picture

>Pretty soon, my mortgage, my bank, my airline, and my type will all belong to the same company :-/

The United States Federal Government? Don't forget your auto-maker.

Té Rowan's picture

Nope. MicroAppleSoft.

dezcom's picture

Nope, "The 1% of the 1%"

Si,

The Chinese Government is far more likely than the U.S. Gov ;-)

Si_Daniels's picture

After giving this a lot of thought, I think the only way to move forward is for type designers to unionize. The problem will be getting all the dead type designers to join. I think the Mormons may have worked out a solution for that but I'm not entirely sure.

Comrades, are you with me? ;-)

hrant's picture

You remember TyD, right?

hhp

oldnick's picture

Well, at least the impending merger puts to rest the question of "Who's your Daddy?"

.00's picture

So $50 million for Bitstream, really MyFonts. Given the multiples that these sales usually work on, that means MyFonts is generating around $13 million a year. The real question, is who is going to buy this Monotype/Agfa/Linotype/ITC/Ascender/Bitstream amalgamation?

It is all venture capital so I can't imagine it will stay in current hands for long. They are interested in making money, not licensing type.

dezcom's picture

Si, Perhaps just a coop would be better. We make an online setup like MyFonts and each contribute a fair and reasonable percentage for operating cost.

dezcom's picture

@James,
Donald Trump :-)

blank's picture

The real question, is who is going to buy this Monotype/Agfa/Linotype/ITC/Ascender/Bitstream amalgamation?

That’s an interesting question. Bill Gates does not seem interested in developing the type business that Corbis acquired when it bought Veer. Steve Jobs could have done a bang-up job, but he is out of the picture. I think it’s more likely to be a small purchase by a massive holding company that wants a small but steady stream of revenue that is relatively insulated from local economic shocks. But I’m not a business guy, so my guesses would just be the obvious mammoths like Bain or Berkshire, and they’re to big to bother.

Si, Perhaps just a coop would be better. We make an online setup like MyFonts and each contribute a fair and reasonable percentage for operating cost.

Something like Vllg, but without the focus on mammoth families and editorial faces, might be a good idea. But is there someone out there who really knows how to put that together? If most type folks were great at digital retail we wouldn’t have hooked up with MyFonts to begin with.

dezcom's picture

The folks who started MyFonts are out there, James.

blank's picture

The folks who started MyFonts are out there, James.

But have they expressed any interest in starting another online font store? When they cashed out did they contracts they signed prohibit them from even doing so?

aluminum's picture

I anxiously await to hear the presidential candidates weigh in on this topic.

dezcom's picture

The Texas Gov does not remember the question; The WackJob lady is too busy getting her face tightened; The GodFather guy is booking time on Maury; The Geezer has wax in his ears; The other guy is just waiting out the competition.

twardoch's picture

> The folks who started MyFonts are out there, James.

Chris,

the folks who started MyFonts are still at MyFonts, and I don’t think much will change in that respect :)

It’s already about 7-8 years ago that a couple of the original team members left the project and since then, MyFonts hired some new people, but practically all of the original team members are still with MyFonts. I joined the team some 9 months after the project’s inception and have been working for MyFonts for 11 years now — and I don’t intend to go anywhere.

(One person whom we do miss indeed, and owe a huge lot, is Charles Ying, then-Bitstream Chairman who came up with the MyFonts idea and nurtured the project from its early years. He passed away in 2010.)

Remember, when MyFonts started, there was much trouble in the air because of the fact that it was Bitstream who started the project. Back then, Bitstream was considered the “bad guys”: “the knockoff boys who almost killed the industry for bundling 900 fonts with Corel Draw and selling a 500-font-CD collection for $50”.

I try to judge people based on the quality of the work they do, not based on the labels they carry. When I was joining the MyFonts team in 2000, it was important to me that Bitstream showed its intentions to “clean up its licensing mess” — and they did. (2003 was the final round when they signed licensing agreements for some Linotype designs — which Bitstream still sold under different names, but the designs were finally licensed).

From what I’m hearing from the new owners, one of the main reasons why they paid $50 million for MyFonts was because they found our project to be successful, and I like to think that one of the key factors behind its success has always been the team (I think they mentioned that, too).

After 11 years now, I can say that it’s by far one of the best teams I’ve ever worked with, or heard that anyone’s worked with. The MyFonts people are dedicated, focused and show amazing work ethics (by my standards anyway). It’s also true that we’ve enjoyed great autonomy and freedom in running MyFonts.

I for myself cannot imagine “starting another online font store”. So far, MyFonts has been the place where I could see my best and sometimes craziest ideas come into existence. The spirit and chemistry among the team has been just mind-blowing (without exception, for 11 years — beat that!), and I expect this to continue the same way.

What’s important: Monotype says that they recognize the way the team operates as a key factor behind MyFonts’ success, so I’d be rather surprised if they decided to suddenly change things. Of course, we shall see how it goes — but I don’t really think the question would be any less open if anybody else acquired MyFonts (say, an investment bank or whatever).

In a sense, while I did recognize the fact that Bitstream was MyFonts’ owner, that fact never was of paramount importance. Had MyFonts been owned by Monotype or whomever else from the very beginning, I guess the same would have been true.

Economic theories say that monopolistic developments are not good for the market because they slow down innovation and make people lazy. Well — at least from what I’ve learned from working with the MyFonts people for 11 years is that those folks are anything but lazy or lacking innovation.

Dunwich Type writes:

> When [the folks who started MyFonts] cashed out

The folks to cash out would be Bitstream shareholders. Bitstream has been a publicly traded company for a long time now. If *you* had bought any shares, you’d be one of those to cash out, I guess. Not sure, however, whether the Bitstream shareholders are the ones whom Chris is referring to as “the folks who started MyFonts”. The MyFonts team consists primarily of employees of the company as well as consultants (such as myself). And most of us were in their early 20s when we started the project.

One thing is certain: consider that Monotype Imaging bought Linotype for $60M and MyFonts for $50M (a rather comparable amount). I still remember the times very vividly when we hit the first 1,000,000 purchases, or when MyFonts broke even financially. It’s amazing that within ten years, the humble work of not much more than a dozen people helped generate this value, and that I’ve had the privilege to be part of it almost from the very beginning.

So — let’s get back to work. As usual, there are many amazing things that we want to do!

(Incidentally — I do have quite a few good friends and colleagues within Linotype and Monotype, so actually I am glad that I’ll probably have more chances to talk to them and work with them. Monopolies aren’t very welcome but fierce competition can be as damaging.)

Best,
Adam

dezcom's picture

"Not sure, however, whether the Bitstream shareholders are the ones whom Chris is referring to as “the folks who started MyFonts”

Adam,
I was referring to the people who did the work as a labor of love hands on, not the investors. I have no problem with the much needed investors and greatly thank them but they were not the ones to whom I referred.

twardoch's picture

James writes:

> They are interested in making money, not licensing type.

Are these mutually exclusive things? So far, I’ve had the naivety to believe that the point... Oh, wait. Where’s that Google Web Fonts and open-source discussion again? ;)

eliason's picture

It’s amazing that within ten years, the humble work of not much more than a dozen people helped generate this value

Well, and the work of the participating foundries, of course!

twardoch's picture

> Well, and the work of the participating foundries, of course!

Absolutely! This is why I wrote “*helped* generate this value”. The foundries did all the hard work anyway, and truly are the ones who generated the value. We’ve only provided a platform for typefaces to be discovered, enjoyed and licensed.

twardoch's picture

Chris,

> I was referring to the people who did the work as a labor of love hands on

Thank you, that’s what I thought you meant :) Well — in that case — those folks have been with MyFonts, and are with MyFonts. Different investors now. Same hands on!

.00's picture

They are not mutually exclusive things at all. I'm thinking about companies like Bertelsmann, Disney, Universal etc.

King of all media...

Richard Fink's picture

I think it's funny that every time something like this occurs, it's reported that all the people in the company acquired won't be going anywhere. Everything will stay exactly as it was.

twardoch's picture

Richard,

Actually, the press announcements in this case tell a different story. Monotype did not acquire Bitstream as a whole but the font business including MyFonts, along with some things like patents trademarks. Other parts of Bitstream's business (Bolt, Pageflex), remain in a separate company. I think it's useful to know who's joining Monotype and who will go to the other company (which will no longer be called Bitstream since AFAIK the Monotype acquisition included the rights for the Bitstream name, which of course makes sense since that name has been used extensively in the context of the Bitstream font library).

So for "all of Bitstream", not everything will stay exactly as it was, and I wasn't under the impression that it's been reported in a way that would suggest that it would.

Best,
Adam

tourdeforce's picture

"
Dear MyFonts:

Regarding to latest news about Monotype will be acquiring the font business of Bitstream. I can just hope that MyFonts' services will stay as fast as they are now.

Posted on November 11, 2011
MyFonts says:
It's all good. Monotype intends to keep the MyFonts team and our method of operating exactly as it is today.
"

Richard Fink's picture

Thanks for the clarification Adam. I didn't mean specifically this acquisition it was just meant to be an offhand observation. Companies are always concerned about alarming customers fearing changes to come. (If things are going fairly well, that is.)
But I did not make that clear. I did wrong, frankly. I went OT, in a fashion.

But my mistake did prompt you to clarify a bit, and that's a good thing, so thanks.

Yesterday, I had a type designer - who shall remain nameless, but is very much in the mainstream, not libré - tell me that he thought this new entity was truly a Monopoly with a capital M. (Not makin' it up just to be provocative. There seems to be some nervousness about this and what it means for font distribution, at least in the short run.)

Got thoughts?

Nick Shinn's picture

I would be concerned if MyFonts were to stop passing on the email addresses of its customers to its suppliers.

It will be interesting to see if Myfonts web font licensing model can coexist with Monotype's.

Si_Daniels's picture

>It will be interesting to see if Myfonts web font licensing model can coexist with Monotype's.

Well, Monotype does provide self-host options, but it's not surprising that they promote the service model. If Bitstream had ben able to invest in developing their own web font service then my guess is they'd have been promoting that option too.

Si_Daniels's picture

>Quiet day.

Well put #2. Or is FSI #2 now, and FBI #3? ;-)

billdavis's picture

I like quiet days. The last couple was pretty crazy for me. Little did I know what I signed up for when I took on the role of managing type designer and foundry relationships here at Monotype Imaging. :)

Like many others, I have the utmost respect for the MyFonts team and the dynamic font community they have built – and I echo Adam’s comments about looking forward to the opportunity to work together to grow and support that community, and to maintain and strengthen the MyFonts.com.

John Hudson's picture

Adam: The foundries did all the hard work anyway, and truly are the ones who generated the value. We’ve only provided a platform for typefaces to be discovered, enjoyed and licensed.

So how much of that $50 million is going to be shared with the people who generated the value that Bitstream are now cashing in on?

Richard Fink's picture

@jh

"So how much of that $50 million is going to be shared with the people who generated the value that Bitstream are now cashing in on?"

Bravo, John. You're consistent, I have to hand that to you.

Yes, why weren't the type designers in for a piece?

Why do the credit card companies make more per download on a song than nearly all recording artists do?
(This is factual.)

Why doesn't the assembly line worker at an automobile plant get a percentage of the sale and subsequent sales of the car she worked on?
(Not bizarre. Just never done. Why not structure compensation that way?)

Because the system was and is set up another way, and it was never challenged.

BTW - I feel bad that Bill Davis - who I like, personally - is stuck with the job of delivering the post-acquisition blather. Yuck.

John Hudson's picture

...the system was and is set up another way, and it was never challenged.

Wasn't it?

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