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Monotype gets more digital, buys Bitstream font biz

As typographically rich publishing reaches beyond paper to the Web, Monotype Imaging expands its customer base by buying its rival's MyFonts Web service as well as lots of fonts.

Monotype Imaging gets Bitstream's MyFonts Web site through its acquisition.
Monotype Imaging gets Bitstream's MyFonts Web site through its acquisition.
screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Monotype Imaging acquired the font business of rival Bitstream for about $50 million in cash, a move that gives it greater clout in the world of digital typography.

Through the acquisition, announced yesterday, Monotype Imaging gets Bitstream's typeface library, its MyFont site for browsing 89,000 fonts and licensing them for use on Web sites, the WhatTheFont service for identifying typefaces, its Font Fusion and Panorama software for font rendering and layout, and 10 patents. It's also hiring 50 Bitstream employees and taking over its research and development site in India.

The move gives Monotype Imaging more heft and more customers during an upheaval in the font business. Earlier font licensing business efforts, for text in advertisements, books, magazines, and video, are moving toward online media. That's because after years of largely fruitless efforts, Web fonts now are in widespread use.

Companies such as Monotype Imaging and Adobe Systems, which acquired TypeKit's Web font licensing business last year, see online publishing as a way to move from one-time font sales to a subscription business. That's because Web fonts must be available online 24 hours a day so they can be delivered when Web browsers download them for use on a particular Web site.

"Monotype Imaging intends to support, promote and grow the MyFonts brand and Web site, which is the resource of choice for a strong community of loyal customers," the company said in a statement. "MyFonts is recognized as one of the top e-commerce font Web sites in the world...Bitstream cultivated an active creative community, helping to drive exciting, innovative design. The company also delivered an excellent user experience and gave type designers considerable control over the work and business."

The Bitstream acquisition will mean more revenue and profit for Monotype Imaging. "For the full year 2012, Monotype Imaging expects Bitstream's font business to contribute approximately $13 million to $14 million in revenue and $2 million to $3 million in net adjusted EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization]," Monotype Imaging said.

Monotype Imaging won't take over all of Bitstream, though. "Monotype Imaging did not acquire Bitstream's BOLT mobile browsing and Pageflex variable data publishing technologies. As part of the agreement to acquire Bitstream's font business, these other businesses were spun out to form a new public company, Marlborough Software Development Holdings," Monotype Imaging said.

Bitstream's MyFonts site lets people browse, organize, and identify fonts.
Bitstream's MyFonts site lets people browse, organize, and identify fonts. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET