Philip Ellis
News & Views
The billion dollar blog deal

Marissa Mayer’s most widely reported move since stepping up as CEO of Yahoo! is the acquisition of popular short-form blogging platform Tumblr, a purchase which will set Yahoo! back a confirmed $1.1 billion. Tumblr, which currently hosts more than 108 million separate blogs, is the creation of 26 year old entrepreneur (and high school dropout) David Karp, who is expected to remain in control of the service.

The deal makes a certain amount of sense; Tumblr brings with it a vast, young user base, something which Yahoo! can leverage towards profitability, an area which Tumblr has skirted in the past.

There are those, though, who are concerned that their favourite social space will be homogenised and reshaped into a corporate content farm; the earliest acquisition rumours precipitated a mass defection of Tumblr users to current blogging leader WordPress. However, Karp has stated outright that the acquisition will not compromise the six year mission and culture of Tumblr, but will actually enhance it. And rather than gentrifying their newest purchase, Sarah Kessler at Fast Company believes that there are many ways in which Yahoo! can benefit from Tumblr’s culture, including a more creative user experience and a less obtrusive approach to advertising.

Tumblr launched back in 2007 and, so the social media fable goes, acquired 75,000 users in its first two weeks on the web. While famously against “traditional” advertising, Karp’s team have turned their attention to native marketing recently as a means of monetisation, with pilot campaigns for Adidas and Coca-Cola leading the way. It doesn’t take a giant leap of logic to predict that this pattern will continue under Tumblr’s new parentage.

“We promise not to screw it up,” writes Mayer on her official Tumblr blog. “Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.”

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