Fontspring Joins Dribbble and Creative Market

As of Friday, Fontspring has joined the Dribbble and Creative Market family. Our entire Fontspring team is staying in place and we're really excited for what the future holds. You can read more about our acquisition here:
I'm sure there will be many questions and we'll be around to answer what we can.
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Comments

  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,859
    Is the new Dribbble/Creative Market/Fontspring amenable to removing section 22 of the terms of service at least until we know more about the new corporation we’ll be dealing with?
  • I don't like section 22 either. I've got a lot to think about.
  • I was just happy that Fontspring wasn't aquired by Monotype.   But @James Puckett and @Jess Latham Which section 22 are you referring to? 
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,859
    @Fontfruits it’s part of the agreement between designers and Fontspring.
  • JoeManbeckJoeManbeck Posts: 22
    edited February 1
    @James Puckett and @Jess Latham We'd absolutely love to have some more insight into your concerns. We know there is a lot of consolidation in the font marketplace and we understand why this may feel concerning.
    For context, this is Section 22 today:
    Creative Market reserves the right to update and change the Agreement from time to time. Reasonable effort will be made to notify Foundry of such changes in accordance with the Notices Section. Keeping your Fontspring account active shall constitute your consent to such changes.
    That language has been part of our agreement since 2015 when we moved from one-off agreements to a Terms of Service model. The reason why we went to a TOS model in the first place was two-fold: 1. It greatly increased our ability to move fast in the market and 2. It released foundries from any lock-in. Some high-profile foundries took advantage of this and were able to leave when they felt like Fontspring was no longer a good fit for them.
    Will Dribbble at some time want to make changes? Yes, there is no doubt about it. But we have great confidence that it will be for the ultimate benefit of the foundries.
    Another important note: @Ethan Dunham and our entire team are staying in place. This isn’t an exit and wave goodbye. We love our foundry partners and want what is best for them. We think this could be a really good thing in the marketplace, to bring better competition and “balance” that does not really exist currently. We tried for 12 years and realized we just could not do it on our own. With Dribbble and Creative Market, we think we can make the font reseller space more competitive which will be a win for foundries.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,859
    edited February 1
    Okay, I looked it over with my attorney and now I have one concern regarding section 22. There is no notices section in the agreement. That would allow the new owners to change the contract so that I cannot withdraw and then make future changes as they wish. As long as a notices section with a ten day advance notice is added I think that it makes sense.
  • Well, well, well. Why am I not surprised?
  • I'm wondering how long it will be before the new owners decide to lower the royalty rate from 70% to 50%.

    I have all the respect in the world for Fontspring. And I appreciate the personal follow-up email from John. However, Dribble obviously has its own interests in mind, which I suspect differs from what we've come to expect. I suppose we'll see over the coming months.

  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 595
    edited February 1
    Structure of the ownership: Tiny > Dribbble > Creative Market > FontSpring, and many more...
    From their site: "Tiny, a Canadian technology holding company focused on acquiring wonderful internet businesses."
    I have never cared for Creative Market, but let us hope it turns out to be a good thing.
  • @James Puckett Really do appreciate your attention to detail. I hear you about the lack of notice and potential for lock-in. No one on our team wants to trick foundries into something. That would be a disaster and contrary to our mission. That said, your concerns are our concerns and we'll see what we can do.
  • I'm just going to lay out here that I think Creative Market deserves a second look and a watchful eye. They have, on their own admission made missteps in the past particularly as it relates to font licensing and brand-positioning. They are under new ownership as George relates, with solid leadership from professionals who've spent a lot of time building business catered to top-tier creatives. I think you will be surprised how they pivot in the next year or two, not just gaining market share, but moving up-market.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,210
    edited February 2
    Hopefully, in the short term they can link customers over to Fontspring to purchase embedded licenses. I think that's the main thing Creative Market is lacking right now: no tiers, no individual fonts, web fonts bundled in the same zip as desktop fonts. I don't think they'd deny that the current setup is a stop-gap measure.

    Of course, I'm afraid of any commission rate changes ahead. We've seen that kind of erosion happen with MyFonts after they were purchased by Monotype. But I think they're smart enough to see the appeal of Fontspring and the tradeoff type designers have accepted with Fontspring: less traffic and marketing vs better rates, good foundry communication, and higher embedded license conversions.

    I've got high hopes for Creative Market. My revenue is a fraction of what I get elsewhere but I think it's a market segment that's unprospected by the other popular font distributors which is interesting to me. I feel like they're tapping into a certain customer base that eludes most other distributors: a customer who prefers an all-in-one stop for stock photos, clipart, templates, and other non-font products.
  • > "No one on our team wants to trick foundries into something"
    Whoa, had to recalibrate my BS meter because it was about to break.

    For years CM has been accumulating fonts from foundries rejected by Myfonts and allowing pirates to simply rename and post their rip-offs there. Do you really want to have your fonts there?
  • Fair enough, I knew when I wrote that, that I was edging toward hyperbole. Apologies. Creative Market has a font problem I agree. Fontspring actively rejects 95% of the (Indonesian clone) stuff that ends up on there. They have work to do to fix that, and it won't be easy.

    I'm not a Creative Market apologist (yet) but do have confidence in their leadership to increasingly take the professional type community into consideration. They are in the early stages. They recognized their weakness in the area of type which is why Fontspring was so strategic for them. Maybe I'm naive (yes I am) but I think we have an opportunity to help them get their font-act together.

    Your critique is helpful @Die in-dryfoun . Appreciate it.
  • @Ray Larabie The fear that Creative Market will change royalty rates is absolutely warranted. Consider that for a long time their rates were 70% just like ours. Now they are 60%. But I have to be completely honest here: Our business was starting to get squeezed by our 30% take in the past few years. It takes a chunk of money to keep an e-commerce operation like ours afloat. And it costs more every year. Completely unrelated, I was recently thinking about the fact that font prices have not "kept up with inflation" and in many/most cases have dropped. The business of design has changed drastically in the past 10 years. (Sadly)
  • Die in-dryfounDie in-dryfoun Posts: 9
    edited February 2
    Hey Ethan, you seem like a nice guy. Would you be open to post here the current Fontspring's custom license draft agreements so we can ask an IP lawyer to check them and post his comments and recommendations? I mean, I am sure Fontspring doesn't want anything in there that would be detrimental to the interest of independent foundries, right?

  • Ethan, do you see a world where Creative Market ends up using the Fontspring font uploader/organizer system? Because uploading and managing fonts on CM right now is a pain.
  • JoeManbeckJoeManbeck Posts: 22
    edited February 2
    @Die in-dryfoun Can you clarify what you're asking for? Sorry...I'm not sure I'm fully following. Are you looking for the text of our Foundry TOS and Foundry Custom Licensing agreements (Fontspring's agreements with our foundry partners)? Or the EULAs themselves?
    Our "standard custom license" EULAs can be found here: https://www.fontspring.com/custom-licenses
    Many customers will use those as a jumping off point and redline those to get something they're happy with and we adjust the price to compensate, most times in conjunction with the foundries themselves.
    @Jesse R Ewing "Using the Fontspring font uploader" seems really unlikely (at least in the near term), but your desire to improve that upload and management process at CM is something we will certainly share with them.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 986
    edited February 2
    > "No one on our team wants to trick foundries into something"
    Whoa, had to recalibrate my BS meter because it was about to break.

    I don't think that's fair at all. None the less, despite the fact that the staff of Fontspring is being retained, and I have no doubts of their full sincerity, I am afraid that my advice to font foundries which regard their fonts and typefaces as being of high value would be to react to Section 22 by assuming the worst - that is, withdraw all their fonts from the site, because it is possible, even if unlikely, that one fine morning, all the Fontspring staff will be locked out of the building, and the Terms of Service will be rewritten to basically give them ownership of all your fonts.
    Despite that it is unlikely that Tiny has any such plans up its sleeve.
    It's unfortunate that they've chosen - like Google, like Microsoft, and like many other big companies, which also did not have any blatantly ulterior plans like that, despite the criticism they recieve - a legal agreement that basically gives them all the protection and their customers basically no protection.
    This, though, is understandable for companies like Facebook or, say, the YouTube portion of Google, that have to deal with what zillions of random people on the Internet submit to them - and which aren't charging their customers money, making it on ad revenues instead.
    If you're entering into a serious relationship with serious font foundries, however, that's a different kettle of fish.
    However, I do not know where Fontspring was positioned. If Fontspring's customers are generally font designers who also use MyFonts, and are expecting a similar business model from both companies... my paranoid advice above would, I think, stand.
    If, on the other hand, Fontspring provided a different kind of service, it's entirely possible that it's not unreasonable for their customers to trust them enough to accept something like Section 22.

    EDIT: I think I should not even wait for a reply before supplying some clarificatiion to this post so as to avoid misunderstandings.
    I am perfectly prepared to accept at face value the statements on the part of Fontspring and its employees about their intention, and I do not ascribe any ulterior motives to them, Creative Market, or Tiny. That isn't what my post is about.
    Because despite all that, if I was Monotype Imaging, and all my fonts were on Fontspring, I would remove all of them from the service in a heartbeat because of Section 22.
    Because in that kind of situation, the issue is not 'do you think the other fellow is a nice guy or not', the issue is whether your intellectual property is behind ironclad legal protection. If the answer is no, that's it, because trust is not the issue - trust is not really extended when the stakes are that high.
    And so, in my mind, the issue isn't 'who does Fontspring think it is', but 'who does Fontspring think its customers are'.
    Ordinary private individuals have no choice but to enter into contracts with clauses like Section 22 if they want to receive telephone service or electrical power.
    But any serious commercial enterprise will not enter into an unequal contract with any of its suppliers if it has a choice.
    So if Fontspring is a service for the 'little guy', positioned as addressing the needs of clients who can't make use of a service like MyFonts, this may not be a misstep on the part of Creative Market that will scare a lot of their customers away. But those of their customers who are relatively well-established as font providers will, I think, be very much put off by Section 22.
  • One little thing about Section 22:
    "22. Amendment
    Creative Market reserves the right to update and change the Agreement from time to time. Reasonable effort will be made to notify Foundry of such changes in accordance with the Notices Section. Keeping your Fontspring account active shall constitute your consent to such changes."
    The document does not contain a Notices Section. Unless they mean Section 27. Electronic Delivery, and if so it should say that.

  • @George Thomas Yes, at one point Section 27 was titled Notices. That's an oversight and indeed 27 is the section referred to.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 986
    I'm wondering how long it will be before the new owners decide to lower the royalty rate from 70% to 50%.

    I visited the MyFonts web site, noted that they're now owned by Monotype, and found out that their royalty rate is 50%. And that their agreement does require that one's MyFonts price be as low as the price anywhere else, so you can't sell the same font for $10 on Fontspring and $14 on MyFonts (to get $7 in either case from the sale).
    So my perception of MyFonts as being for the 'big boys' appears to have been in error, although FontFont seems to have its designs there.
  • I have looked in horror for the past little while (has it been years?) as fonts have been added to creative market.  I think they fundamentally misunderstand fonts, and think they are just another design product.

    My entire career has been about helping people to unlearn that misconception. Fonts are like architecture.  They are far more a product of engineering than design, and simply because they are judged on aesthetics people think they are a design product. Yes, design products are licensed IP and so are fonts, but you don't have to license fonts like IP (and I argue that you shouldn't). To run retail a font business (which is what resellers are) right you basically have to run it like a software company.  It starts with little things like, in NY, collecting sales tax because it's software (you don't collect sales tax on graphic design work) to the complexities of software licensing (licensing for static design artwork is much more simple because there's just less you can do with it).

    If fontspring stays its own imprint this might work but I doubt it will.  They already have fonts on creative market and I think this is primarily a library building purchase, no?
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,859
    FWIW I’ll be happen to accept the updated agreement once a Notices section is added.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,289

    I visited the MyFonts web site, noted that they're now owned by Monotype....

    Monotype acquired MyFonts in late 2011. Over a decade now.
    So my perception of MyFonts as being for the 'big boys' appears to have been in error, although FontFont seems to have its designs there.

    MyFonts was, from its inception, the most open of all font sales platforms, kind of the commons of font sales. Although the bar for acceptance is higher than it once was, originally as long as the font could install and didn’t have any obvious kind of infringement going on, it got accepted.

     So, pretty much the polar opposite of being “for the ‘big boys,’” whatever exactly that might be intended to mean.

    Also, FontFont is a brand of FontShop, which has been owned by Monotype since 2014. Not surprising they would offer their own fonts on their own site.
  • There are companies whose business model is based on artist / designers' naivety and ignorance about IP laws.
  • @Ethan Dunham Thank you for your comments! FontSpring has been such a great vendor—so personable, and the 70% commission was definitely noticed. I was disheartened when Creative Market dropped their commission to 60%, and I also still haven't figured out how to get a hold of a real human on Creative Market. I'm sorry to hear that the higher commission rates aren't working. My royalties dropped quite a bit after Covid hit, and I'm guessing the change in world climate is affecting all of us. Just wanted to say thank you to FontSpring for a good chapter! So sorry to see it go. 
  • @James Puckett Does it even matter if you accept the updated agreement? It says:
    "Keeping your Fontspring account active shall constitute your consent to such changes."
    So...
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