With acquisition, Monotype eyes smartphone fonts

The $10.2 million acquisition of Ascender gets Monotype Imaging experience in typefaces for smartphones, TV, gaming consoles, and other devices.

A sampling of Ascender's Droid fonts
A sampling of Ascender's Droid fonts Ascender/Monotype Imaging

Monotype Imaging, showing further signs of adapting the old-school world of typographic design to the new era of technology, has acquired privately owned Ascender for $10.2 million.

The Woburn, Mass.-based company has been ramping up its effort to adapt to new media where fonts are used, launching its Web-based font service in September. The Ascender acquisition--for $7 million in cash and $3.2 million in stock--gives them a foothold in the smartphone world.

That's because Ascender designed typefaces including Droid for Google's Android operating system and Segoe WP for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. The company also has produced fonts for set-top boxes, TVs, and the Xbox 360. Ascender's employees--though before Ascender's formation in 2004--also worked on the first TrueType fonts that shipped with Windows and Mac operating systems, Monotype said.

"Ascender brings to Monotype Imaging vast industry and design experience, well established customer relationships, and the ability to solve challenging technical problems," said Doug Shaw, chief executive officer at Monotype Imaging, in a statement.

Type design has undergone plenty of transitions with the diversification of print then the arrival of TVs, computers, and other electronic devices. Although plenty of people are satisfied with freely available and built-in fonts, others use typography to help try to establish style and corporate brand identity.

All Ascender's 12 employees will join the new company, with President Ira Mirochnick becoming Monotype Imaging's vice president and general manager of Display Imaging.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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