TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Sun Dec 16 17:38:51 EST 2018






Monotype acquires Bitstream, II

The reaction by the typophiles to the purchase, in November 2011, of Bitstream and MyFonts.com, by Monotype, is one of desperation [Where does the Monotype monopoly go next?], hope [Can we start a new MyFonts.com?], and pride [Adam Twardoch, from MyFonts.Com, on the achievements of the MyFonts team]. For the histrorical record, I replay passages of Adam Twardoch's observations in this thread.

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 is 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.

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!

Monotype acquires Bitstream, II
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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html