Type Network's new CEO

Hi, all. I wanted to share the news that some of you have heard -- I've joined Type Network as CEO starting this week.

I'll have more to share on the direction of Type Network in 2024. For now, here's what is not changing:

TN is focused on the "high end" of the type industry -- helping the world's most talented type designers find opportunities to grow their business with sophisticated buyers who appreciate fine type.

Today we're most likely to find those customers among corporate or "enterprise" buyers. We're also building on the legacy of Webtype and Font Bureau, both of which had a large customer base of discerning individual purchasers. At the end of 2023 we've launched new enterprise licensing programs that are winning new customers for our partners. Our new consulting offering is delivering custom font projects from major corporate clients to trusted partners in our foundry network.  

Now more than ever, the type industry needs partners who are closely aligned with the interests of type designers. TN has always fit that description, and I'll be looking for ways to help it do even better. We'll continue to pay the highest royalty rates in the business. We will base our foundry partnerships on personal relationships with type designers. We will not offer type produced by generative AI, nor will we license our partners' type for use to train generative AI.

In my career, I've learned that marketplaces can find short-term success by choosing to focus either on buyers or sellers. This kind of short-term thinking is rewarded when vast private fortunes are deployed in an effort to win market share, undermine competition, and generate outsized investment returns. 

In the long run, we believe that the type industry will be defined by companies that fairly and thoughtfully balance the interests of buyers and sellers. Type Network was founded by and remains owned by type designers. The founders, shareholders, foundry partners, and employees all share the same belief: great design starts with great fonts, and great fonts come from the world's most talented type designers.

If you'd like to talk to us, drop me a line: [email protected] -- I'm always interested in hearing from you. You can also book a 1:1 call with me here:

https://calendly.com/tn-matthew

--Matthew
CEO, Type Network
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Comments

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    edited January 3
    Today we're most likely to find those customers among corporate or "enterprise" buyers.
    I recall, when you were at Adobe, you were keen on the idea of selling fonts in volume to ‘normals’. You were surely not alone in that hope, but the resulting depreciation of retail licensing prices and incessant discounting, along with the gradual reduction of the share of income directed to foundries and designers, has eroded much of the value of the business that independent foundries developed in the 1990s and 2000s. Today we’re most likely to find sophisticated buyers who appreciate fine type among corporate customers because the customer base of smaller and mid-level professional design customers has been demolished by resellers chasing volume.
  • We'll continue to pay the highest royalty rates in the business. 
    What are your royalty rates?
  • For retail:
    50:50 for non-exclusive partner foundries.
    70:30 for exclusives, with the partner getting the 70.
  • MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 24
    Type Network partners earn royalties from 50% - 70% of revenue.

    It's our intention to offer designers the most favorable terms, and to become the partner of choice for designers who would otherwise not use third party distribution. 
  • MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 24
    Today we're most likely to find those customers among corporate or "enterprise" buyers.
    I recall, when you were at Adobe, you were keen on the idea of selling fonts in volume to ‘normals’. You were surely not alone in that hope, but the resulting depreciation of retail licensing prices and incessant discounting, along with the gradual reduction of the share of income directed to foundries and designers, has eroded much of the value of the business that independent foundries developed in the 1990s and 2000s. Today we’re most likely to find sophisticated buyers who appreciate fine type among corporate customers because the customer base of smaller and mid-level professional design customers has been demolished by resellers chasing volume.
    I appreciate the feedback, John. I think we agree about a lot of this. Obviously I don't see our work at Adobe as the cause of the effects you describe, but I will reflect further on that. Thank you for sharing it with me. 
  • Apart from an extra 20%, what does a foundry for going exclusive?
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,396
    MrEchs said:
    We'll continue to pay the highest royalty rates in the business. 
    What about 65% Now and Forever - Font Bros?
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 722
    Congratulations!
  • MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 24
    Thanks, Simon!

    Craig, I think the Font Bros arrangement is terrific. As Roger pointed out, there's more to what we offer than that number but I do appreciate their straightforward approach.

    John, thanks for the kind words and for sharing your views on the business.

    Type Network is owned by type designers. Ss you point out, this ensures our interests remain aligned with our partners.

    I expect foundries will continue to evaluate us carefully and critically to ensure it stays that way. 

    --Matthew
  • Great way to start the new year. Well done.

  •  In a couple of respects, the independent type foundry model was a victim of its own early success: a) it inspired large numbers of young creative individuals to get into type design, saturating the market with so many new typefaces in recent years that it is no longer possible to keep track of them all, meaning that popularity, when it happens, tends to be at a niche level, and b) it made some people with money think that fonts looked like a good thing to invest in, and they gave that money to companies like Monotype because capitalists hate small businesses and companies headed by creatives.


    That’s like complaining it’s hard to keep track of all the games/movies/music/books etc etc that are released now that the barrier to entry is so low. There was the dreaded “indiepocalypse” a few years ago in the games industry which amounted to fear-mongering over nothing. It’s not the same thing as fonts, but there are parallels.

  • Kris : The greater rev share *is* the main benefit of TN exclusive partnerships. We are careful in retail promotions and enterprise or custom sales efforts not to favor one foundry over others.

    @Mark Simonson’s “everything everywhere all at once” approach. No reseller has 100% market coverage. 20% extra on a sale is unlikely to offset the market coverage of being on several platforms at once.

    Foundries with exclusive agreements tend to be the most active partners at TN. They provide more information and data about their releases, and they communicate more frequently. As we expand TN's consulting agency, we've found the exclusives are a bit faster to join pitches.
    How exactly do you deal with foundry-generated marketing? Do you post their video/image assets across all of your channels? Do you re-make marketing assets to fit with TN’s house style? Do you run print ads? Buy google ads?
    In all businesses, communication is the key. Join us!

    No thanks.

  • MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 24
    How exactly do you deal with foundry-generated marketing? Do you post their video/image assets across all of your channels? Do you re-make marketing assets to fit with TN’s house style? Do you run print ads? Buy google ads?
    I'm not sure if this is the answer you're looking for, and with the caveat that I am still getting up to speed here: yes, we do or have done these things sometimes, but not always. Foundries do their own marketing, and we cooperate on some. I'd have to give more thought to a "house style" for advertising, but we certainly are not looking to restrict the style or messaging of our partners. 

    Prior to joining TN, my experience with Google Ads is that it's very difficult to make them work effectively. Monotype shares a vastly smaller share of their revenue with foundries, and they buy ads at a vastly larger scale. This means they can pay a much higher rate for the same or similar terms, and that increases the rates for everybody else. 

    We do have a specialized agency that helps us optimize our spending on advertising, and we're always looking for ways to help our partners stand out in the very crowded space.

    If you take a look at
    https://typenetwork.com/articles

    you can see some of the excellent work my colleagues have put into helping our partners tell their stories, which also attracts some search engine traffic.

    Our partnership with Adobe supplies a lot of inbound traffic, and we are considering other distribution partnerships that would multiply that effect.

    --Matthew
  • congratulations on your new job, matthew. interesting thread. you state: "type network is owned by type designers." i'm interested to understand: who are they, who owns type network, exactly?
  • MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 24
    Hi Cornel. You can get a sense of who is behind Type Network at:
    https://typenetwork.com/about

    I'm super interested to talk with you or anybody else from the type community, if you want to learn more about Type Network or if you have feedback to share.

    You can book a meeting with me here:
    https://calendly.com/tn-matthew

    My email is matthew at typenetwork dot com.

  • Kris SowersbyKris Sowersby Posts: 41
    edited January 9
    I too would like to know who exactly the owners are! The about page isn’t clear. Who are the type designers that own Type Network?
  • hi matthew, i’m glad you’re super interested to talk. so am i! already did have a sense of who's operating type network, but now i’m super interested to understand who owns it. i’m sure the type community is, too, especially after you made a point that it is 'designer owned’. so, who owns type network?

  • MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 24
    I can understand your skepticism, and I agree that my choice of words was imprecise. I appreciate being held to a high standard. That is what the industry needs, and I intend to live up to it. 
  • @Kris Sowersby the one founder who started a competing company is Paley.  So far as I know Sam is just an employee of The Type Founders. If I'm wrong about that then it's two founders who started a competing company.  That said, the implication of Mathew's post is that they aren't voting members.  

    As an aside, I'm a business side long time font person and I find that people tend to colloquially refer to me as a "typeface designer" because "font person" sounds weird.  Rodger is definitely in the same category as me.  
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    Are Type Network and The Type Founders competing? Or complementary and synergistic? I’d assumed the latter. They have different business models.


  • MrEchsMrEchs Posts: 24
    I'll just add that foundry partners can terminate their agreement and withdraw from Type Network any time they like. It's a different situation if the IP becomes owned by the distributor, but that's not our model. 
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,374
    @John Hudson I'm with you on this. It seems the traditional pathway from social media exposure to font sales, or even free font downloads, isn't nearly as effective as it once was. The landscape appears to have almost fully shifted towards collective storefronts that offer a broader range of options. Customers seem more drawn to these comprehensive platforms, whether they're traditional font vendors or fonts-as-a-service models, rather than focusing on individual typefaces or smaller foundries as they did a few years ago.
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