That FONT-top of the world feeling


July 29, 2019

Today, link-scammers go on a tear and an entrepreneur weave a business out of hair, but first…
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The font-making pioneer Monotype’s next paragraph starts with an $825m acquisition

Last week, a titan of typesetting, Monotype Imaging Holdings, was acquired for $825m by the private equity company HGGC. 

Monotype — which has cranked out fonts for 132 years now — survived the decline of the typewriter. But now, it must face a challenge of an entirely different type…

Can a typesetter still print money in the age of the emoji? 

When Monotype was founded in 1887, it pioneered a new type of printing that used hot sheet metal to create individual letters. 

The company typed its own ticket to success, opening a London office and designing iconic fonts like Times New Roman and Perpetua.

But in the 1960s, Monotype was almost written off as the typesetting industry moved away from metal and toward photographic paper.

Then, Monotype was saved by an Arial from above

After a few ugly years, Monotype scored just the kind of all-caps client it needed to turn things around: IBM.

Monotype designed a font called Arial for IBM printers in 1982. Then, it attracted the attention of Microsoft (and, later, Apple). 

Soon, as a standard-issue font in Windows and macOS, Arial became one of the most widespread fonts on the planet. 

Computer companies helped Monotype reset its margins…

But that didn’t mean things were easy at the font factory. 

Over the past few years, Monotype has acquired a string of companies — ranging from marketing firms to e-sticker startups (remember what we said about emojis?!?) — to transition to a more digital future.

Yet Monotype, which has been traded on the Nasdaq as “TYPE,” has steadily lost value over the past 5 years. Now, under private ownership, Monotype has the chance to rearrange its letters without public oversight. 

No matter what happens to Monotype, its fonts will endure: As part of a partnership with Google called Noto, Monotype is developing a unified, global font that will cover 800 languages and 100 different alphabets.

The font to end all fonts
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The market for dead links is very much alive

404. It’s a number most of us know and hate — a digital dead end that tells us we’ve gone too far in pursuit of vintage Keanu Reeves T-shirts.

But not all busted links lead to “Page not found.” 

Some dead links — even ones in legitimate websites — are repurposed in behind-the-scenes backlinking schemes that redirect unsuspecting readers to ads and scams, according to a report from BuzzFeed.

You can think of it as ‘link-jacking’

Link vultures circle the internet searching for expired links in popular articles posted by reputable publishers like The New York Times

Then when they find some dead links, they offer to redirect them away from their original, deceased domains and toward their clients’ domains — for a price, of course.

Bogus backlinks sell for as much as $500 on sites like Fiverr.

And some of the biggest names in news are affected

It’s not just The New York Times, either: Bloomberg, The Guardian, the BBC, HuffPost, CNN, Forbes, and other publishers were all named in BuzzFeed’s report.

In some cases, lone-wolf black-hat “SEO consultants” build these lousy links, which redirect to everything from online gambling sites to bankruptcy lawyers. In other cases, agencies — like “LinkVidya” — do the dirty deed.

» Think before you link
This one’s for all the people out there who prefer absorbing stories through your ear-holes instead of your eyeballs. Click on a podcast episode below to start listening.

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Crimetown
Divine Evidence
A young prosecutor, who would later become the infamous mayor of Providence, RI, takes on a gruesome murder case — A widely publicized story that set Buddy Cianci’s life of organized crime in motion.

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Moonrise
The Tale of the Blue Light
We’ve all heard about how. But why did we go to the moon? Was it to stick a flag in the ground and hit golf balls into space? Hardly. Host Lillian Cunningham’s journey to find out the real reason we went to the moon starts with episode 1.

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Death Sex & Money
Jason Isbell & Will Welch
Who knew that the savior of Americana music was best friends with the editor-in-chief of GQ Magazine? Together they sit down to talk about their friendship, Will’s recent cancer diagnosis, splurging on frivolous yet meaningful items, and their shared sobriety.

After the Sprint-T-Mobile deal, victory is a DISH best served wireless

DISH, best known as the satellite company that doesn’t come with NFL Sunday Ticket, is about to set up a 5G network — and also become the 4th-largest U.S. cell carrier — after the Sprint-T-Mobile merger. 

The Department of Justice ruled DISH would purchase $5B in Sprint assets, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and a small portion of Sprint’s spectrum for delivering 5G. 

DISH basically becomes the new Sprint — and emerges as an unlikely victor in the Sprint-T-Mobile merger. 

It was a long time coming for Dish

This may seem like a happy accident, but DISH’s CEO insists the company was working toward becoming a cell carrier. It had already been building up its own portion of 5G spectrum. 

“These developments are the fulfillment of more than two decades’ worth of work and more than $21B in spectrum investments intended to transform DISH into a connectivity company,” CEO Charlie Ergen said in a press release.

The 5G future 

DISH notified the FCC that by June 2023 the company will set up a 5G network capable of serving 70% of the U.S. 

And for the business people skeptical of whether DirecTV’s little brother can compete with the established powers, Ergen noted that DISH succeeded in beating cable monopolies in the past. 

“We will again serve customers by disrupting incumbents and their legacy networks,” he said, “this time with the nation’s first standalone 5G broadband network.”

» DISHin’ for compliments

Small business of the week: Essence Luxe Couture

Welcome to our new Small Business section. Every Monday, we feature a company started by one of our readers. Want your story told next? Fill out our Small Business Survey here.

At the age of 21, Akosua Asare developed alopecia, a condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to hair loss.

Eventually, the damage was so severe that she was forced to shave her head completely bald. It was then that she discovered the transformative aesthetic power of wigs.

In 2017, the young entrepreneur spent $15k in loans and savings to launch Essence Luxe Couture, a luxury wig maker aimed at helping those who suffer from hair loss. Asare’s wigs, which retail from $75 to $800, use ethically sourced hair from Cambodia and are handmade through an arduous, month-long process.

Her first-year revenue topped $40k; in her second year, she hit $65k, with annual overhead expenses of around $20k.

“For women, having a wig that looks natural means they have the opportunity to feel and look like themselves again,” says Asare.

Stats at a glance:

  • Founder: Akosua Asare, 25
  • Employees: 1
  • Cost to launch: $15k
  • Funding method(s): Personal savings, loans
  • Annual overhead expenses: $20k
  • 1st year revenue: $40k
  • 2nd year revenue: $65k
  • Sales channels: Amazon, Etsy, and ELC website.
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