In the countless varieties of possible platforms to use in social media, there is one of several services that have managed to keep interested regular users even in the shadow of Facebook, Twitter and the like. This is Tumblr, launched in 2007 as a platform to do micro-blogs of content such as multimedia inserts, with options to make user blogs private or public. It was not all success however, with Tumblr acquired in 2013 by Yahoo!, becoming part of Verizon-Oath when Yahoo! in turn was acquired, and Verizon prohibiting adult-themed content afterwards. And it looks like the platform will be changing hands again, to a company that specializes in blogging.
The Verge tells us that Verizon has decided to offer Tumblr to Automattic Inc., with the acquisition being announced just this Monday, August 12. Tumblr, as a subsidiary of Yahoo! at the time, was part and parcel of the 2017 acquisition of the former internet search engine giant by Verizon, with repackaged them into a new division called Oath. The American telecommunications giant was interested in offering the microblog service to potential buyers from the start of 2019, and has now landed an undisclosed deal with the corporation that developed the open-source WordPress blogging software and the WordPress.com blogging website.
A statement by Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan noted that they were happy for Automattic expressing interest in the Tumblr platform, remarking that the latter’s track record and specialization with the development of online blogging will make it the perfect parent company and partner. “Tumblr is a marquee brand that has started movements,” says Gowrappan, “allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms.” Analysis by Axios Systems estimate that what Automattic paid for Tumblr, allegedly under $3 million, was a far cry from the over $1 billion Yahoo! had paid for in 2013.
From a cynical perspective, that devaluation is confirmation of how far Tumblr has gone down from the heights of its early years in the previous decade. The fact that the platform created by David Karp in 2007 allowed adult discussions and content made it a choice social network for the LGBTQ community. They and many Tumblr users were concerned by the acquisitions made of the service by Yahoo! and Verizon, with their fears confirmed when Verizon pushed to make Tumblr all-ages with an adult-content ban in December 2018. Many users quit the platform in response.
There has already been speculation on how Tumblr might be integrated into Automattic’s sphere of products and services like WordPress. Since they are both blogging platforms some service and functionality sharing is possible, but none of the parties involved have made any post-acquisition statements yet.
Image courtesy of Ad Age