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Monotype << FontShop | 24 Independent Type Foundries That Monotype Doesn’t Own → Typewolf

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unbeknownst to many, this is quite a big deal...

Why is it a big deal?

The type community has been in a bit of an uproar after last week’s news of the acquisition of FontShop by Monotype. FontShop’s FontFont library was the world’s largest independent collection of original typefaces while Monotype is a huge publicly traded company that already owns the Linotype, ITC, Ascender and Bitstream type libraries.

I’ve seen responses ranging from light-hearted jabs about Erik Spiekermann “cashing out” to extreme tirades against capitalism.

It's like Verizon eating AT&T.

Though in operational terms, it probably won't mean much for clientele and customers.  It certainly leverages resources and funding for more commissions and type development.  I think it always just sounds crazy when a big company buys another big company.  Or, to be more accurate, a holding company (Monotype) buying the IP of the next biggest independent (FontShop), because that's all it is, IP acquisition for Monotype's portfolio and publicly traded business.  Time to invest...

I see. Makes this almost a monopoly.

Essentially (but not completely).  It seems also a business play to bundle large sets (create new categorical catalogues) of FS's font library together with their existing catalogues (ITC, Linotype, et al), targeted at enterprise creative firms and print houses.  Very much like a Monsanto of typeface.

Though in today's landscape, unique typefaces are being designed by the second, and more and more are becoming open sourced (League of Movable Type, for example, which fed fonts to Google's open source webfont collection).  HFJ, Typetogether, YWFT, PL are just some examples of excellent indie foundries/retailers.  

This is the only play Monotype can make at this point, since the innovation of Webfonts and Typekit belong most to open source community and Adobe (a company that is great at strategic M&A), respectively.

Would they be inexpensive enough for Google or Adobe to want to buy?

Probably not, but Google can buy anything (but wouldn't buy just anything).  Monotype is, in a way, a guardian of a legacy of letters and printing, so their IP portfolio has a different kind of rich, sentimental value that is meaningful to a specific (yet large community of professionals).  Google/Adobe tend towards building new, innovative product solutions, rather than being historians and type/design creative companies by nature.  I can see reasons why they might want to own all the type in the world, and also reasons why that pursuit is not aligned with their models.

Google would do it so no one could use it against them. (Why they bought Motorola's patents.)

Adobe would do it if they thought they could make money off it. (Why they bought Macromedia Flash.)

But yeah, most likely, neither would be buyers.