Ted Harrison retires; Thomas Phinney now FontLab President

FontLab announces today the retirement of co-founder and corporate business leader Theodore (Ted) Harrison. Harrison will continue as Chairman, but has stepped down from most day-to-day operations. Thomas Phinney, who joined FontLab in May 2014, replaces Harrison as FontLab President. The rest of the FontLab team is unchanged, but Adam Twardoch has been promoted to Director of Products, reflecting his increasing focus on the software itself.

“The company is in good hands,” said Ted Harrison. “It was over two years ago when I started planning my retirement. Co-founder Yuri Yarmola and I thought about who we wanted to take on my position, and one name came to mind first for both of us: Thomas Phinney. He was the obvious choice; we were happy to have him join us as Vice President, preparing for the transition to President.”

Harrison started his involvement with FontLab in 1992, creating a company (Pyrus NA) to distribute the FontLab program in North America. The original FontLab font editor was called simply FontLab, created by Yuri Yarmola. In 1993 Pyrus distributed the first version of FontLab to leave Russia, FontLab 2.0 for Windows. Initially this was just a small business sideline for Harrison, moonlighting from his main work as a medical doctor.

The Russian technology company SoftUnion, which had been developing FontLab with Yarmola, decided to get out of the software business. In 1995 they sold the FontLab software rights to Pyrus, and Yarmola partnered with Harrison. During the late 1990s, FontLab became more of a full-time occupation for Harrison. In 2000 Pyrus sold its rights to a successor company, Fontlab Ltd., Inc., with Harrison and Yarmola as the principals. Twardoch joined the team in early 2004.

Thus, Harrison’s retirement and Phinney’s promotion represents FontLab’s first major leadership change in 20 years. This announcement comes as FontLab prepares to launch a public preview of its next-generation font editor, FontLab VI, a replacement for the type design and production standard, FontLab Studio 5.

Phinney has an extensive background in both software product management and type design, including an MS from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Printing, an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, 11 years in type at Adobe (lastly product manager for fonts and typography) and five years at Extensis. During his time as Vice President, Phinney has taken on responsibility for business matters and marketing, as well as contributing to software development practices and product direction.

I am enthusiastic about the challenges and changes ahead for FontLab,” said Phinney. “Taking on running a company whose software I have been a regular user of for over two decades is exciting. But contributing to the development of FontLab VI has been the real thrill. I can’t wait for users to get their hands on our next-generation software.”

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Thomas Phinney

Thomas Phinney was CEO of FontLab until 2019, when he retired from FontLab to pursue his font detective work and type design. Previously he worked at Extensis (web fonts and font management tools) and Adobe (as product manager for global fonts and typography). Thomas is also a teacher, writer, and consultant on fonts and typography. He has been consulted by Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, Oxford University Press, a “big three” US auto maker, the US Treasury Department, and PBS “History Detectives,” among others. He teaches type design with Crafting Type and has been a repeat guest lecturer for MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading. Since 2004 he has been a board member of ATypI, the international typography association. His typeface Hypatia Sans is an Adobe Original with over 3000 glyphs per font.