Adobe Acquires Typekit: First Thoughts

by jfjudah

Since I began work on a major opinion article about Typekit, they were acquired by Adobe. These are just initial thoughts; the main article is still to come.

There are of course good and bad sides to the acquisition, as felt from the two distinct tones taken in the comments on Typekit’s announcement.

Adobe Acquires Typekit

Adobe Acquires Typekit

The good is that the Typekit team deserves every accolade that could possibly be lavished on them. Adobe brings with them an infusion of cash and big-name confidence to push web fonts forward. The bad is the list of concerns: that Adobe will adorn their chef’s hat and mess up Typekit’s great recipe; that Typekit’s catalog will be flooded with poor choices; that Adobe will be promoted above other foundries the way Google puts results that favor themselves first; that Typekit may gradually become a storefront for Adobe’s catalog; that the entire process may become more complicated the way Adobe’s software is.

Without being specific, in the comments Tim Brown and Mandy Brown have promised these concerns are unfounded. (Though, a few lines from Tim in the comments seem to have vanished since this morning.) Mandy explains:

“I can assure you our commitment to Typekit is not about to be erased. By trusting in us, you also trust our decision to join Adobe, and our ability to continue improving on our service in the coming weeks and months. I, for one, don’t believe our users are about to run for the hills. I do think they will be watching us carefully, and that they have very high expectations for where we are headed. And we will do everything we can to meet and exceed those expectations, just as we always have.”

My initial thought when I received Typekit’s email was, “Oh, crap. If Adobe’s taking over, they’re gonna mess it up.” But we are assured Adobe is not taking over. All the good and none of the bad from such a partnership — the Typekit team stays together, web fonts move ahead, and Adobe avails their considerable support rather than totalitarianism. Good. As Mandy put it, I am hopeful but aware.

Now what if a different company had acquired Typekit? What would our reaction have been if it were Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, WordPress, or FontShop? As someone with a small interest in Typekit, here are some pertinent questions:

  • What have been their successes and failures in the past ten years?
  • What category of business are they known for: software, hardware, type, client- or server-side service, sales, gaming, aggregation, search, advertising, content services?
  • Was the acquisition a short-term tactic or a long-term direction for the company?
  • Will they cultivate Typekit for the long haul, or are they just mining personal information and making a buck before they move on?
  • Are they trying to lock users into a niche system, or are they figuring out ways to make the service faster, more reliable, easier, more ubiquitous — more accessible in other words?

For Adobe and Typekit, the acquisition makes a lot of sense. To me, it would have made a bit more sense — and I would have felt better about it — had it been FontShop or Apple. But that doesn’t matter now. I love Typekit and I’m staying with them until they go out of their way to prove me wrong. And I’ll still recommend them highly to any who will listen. The experience is smooth, the typefaces are superb, the support is great, the uptime is guaranteed, and your web mojo is, too. I read that in the fine print. I promise.

Stay tuned for a crazy thought about Typekit which is now pretty much guaranteed to not happen.