Today typography giant Monotype Imaging announced a strange move: the $27 million acquisition of Swyft Media, a startup that specializes in creating and licensing branded stickers for messaging apps like Kik.
In the often unapproachable world of type design, where every beautiful curve is slaved over for years at a time, it’s hard to imagine something more incongruous than stickers. Yet, according to Evan Wray of Swyft Media and Monotype chief financial officer Scott Landers, that’s not the case; emoji and typography share many goals, and the two companies will apparently make beautiful music together.
Let’s get this interview started.
VentureBeat: Why the heck did a font foundry just buy a sticker company?
Scott Landers: There’s two halves of our business. One, we serve all the OEMs. The other half of our business has been servicing the businesses that create content. We’ve worked with brands for decades, like Nike. We help them communicate with their customers. For us, this is a natural extension.
VentureBeat: Have people shifted in the ways they communicate?
Evan Wray: I think, from our standpoint, when you first see the acquisition you might say, “What are the synergies there?” I got to know the Monotype team and where they’re headed, and the synergies really matched up on our end.
We’re really looking at the emoticons and stickers as an extension of the fonts.
VentureBeat: Are stickers a trend or are they here to stay?
Scott Landers: The key thing to us is the engagement with the brands. It really is the difference maker. The relationships that Swyft has with the brands — it’s a really powerful combination.
VentureBeat: But will consumers grow tired of emojis and stickers?
Evan Wray: I don’t think so at all. I think they will continue to evolve. Our whole business model is being at the forefront on 50-plus applications. It will continue to evolve. Not only just the emoticon sticker, but other types of content.
VentureBeat: Is there any tension between type design and emoji design?
Scott Landers: I don’t think so. Now that the technology’s here, it enables people to communicate their emotion in a new way. The devil’s in the details, but if you think of what the goal is — allowing the brand and the consumer to express themselves in the most meaningful way possible — both of us share that common goal.
Evan Wray: For Swyft, this is business as usual. One of the things that we really continue to push is the growth of our team, the growth of our sales force, and the growth of our development resources. We’ll continue to do business as usual.
Scott Landers: For us, it’s really getting us into the consumer market for the first time in a very meaningful way. We’ve always been a customer-centric company.