Yahoo snaps up Tumblr: Yahoo approved a $1.1 billion deal to buy Tumblr over the weekend, giving the company, as The New York Times’ Jenna Wortham noted, a big stake in the current wave of simpler, more personal and expressive soci...
Yahoo snaps up Tumblr: Yahoo approved a $1.1 billion deal to buy Tumblr over the weekend, giving the company, as The New York Times’ Jenna Wortham noted, a big stake in the current wave of simpler, more personal and expressive social media platforms. Yahoo pledged “not to screw it up,” and its sources told All Things D’s Kara Swisher they’d take a hands-off approach to Tumblr. But it will make changes — Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said it would introduce more ads to Tumblr’s dashboards.
A lot of people were immediately skeptical of Yahoo’s ability (or willingness) to keep Tumblr un-screwed-up, including GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram, who noted, as many others did, that Yahoo was unable to do that with its prior purchases Geocities and Flickr. PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy pointed out that a lot has changed at Yahoo since then (particularly Mayer’s presence). Still, blogging pioneer Dave Winer warned that when you sell a company, your buyers can do what they want with it; promises don’t matter. YouTube’s Hunter Walk offered Yahoo some helpful tips from Google’s management of his own site.
Several other writers along with Lacy saw this move as a good one for Yahoo. Forbes’ Alex Konrad saw it as a success as long as Yahoo maintains a light touch, and Ingram said it made some sense as a desperation move. Reuters’ Felix Salmon said the deal looks good from both sides — it allows Yahoo better user data and advertising opportunities, and it lets Tumblr pawn off its profitability problems. Tumblr co-founder Marco Arment said the Yahoo deal will allow Tumblr’s founder and head, David Karp, to focus on design and user experience while offloading concerns about maintenance and money to Yahoo.
Business Insider’s Jay Yarow and Nicholas Carlson cited similar reasons in arguing that this deal works for Tumblr, and reasoned that it also helps Yahoo solve its mobile problem. Tech entrepreneur John Battelle said the key is Yahoo’s shift from traditional to native advertising, and Fast Company’s Sarah Kessler advised Yahoo to adopt Tumblr’s creativity in developing native ads.
Fortune’s John Saroff listed some reasons to doubt Tumblr’s effectiveness for advertising, however. BuzzFeed’s John Herrman argued that Yahoo is buying Tumblr for access to its young user base, which sees Yahoo as representing adults, and with them cluelessness and boredom. Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch asserted that Tumblr’s users will jump ship rather than go with it to Yahoo, and WordPress saw a jump in posts at the announcement, potentially (though not necessarily likely) suggesting a migration.
Business Insider’s Jay Yarow saw a troubling dip in traffic at Tumblr over the past few months, while Timothy B. Lee of The Washington Post saw Yahoo’s fixation on young, “cool” users as a sign that’s thinking too much like a media company, rather than a tech company. Paul Smalera of Reuters, meanwhile, argued that Yahoo and Tumblr’s fundamental clashes in philosophy could be greater than their shared strengths. The Guardian’s Michael Wolff was similarly skeptical, writing that the Tumblr purchase is fueled more by desperate investors than anything else: “nothing in Yahoo’s muddled experience and questionable competence suggests it knows anything about the social business or has any sensibility that has anything to do with cool.”
Finally, tech entrepreneur Anil Dash offered some thoughts about how Tumblr upended the conventional wisdom on blogging and furthered the form as a result, and Referly’s Danielle Morrill wrote that Tumblr could have had an even bigger windfall if it had figured out how to better monetize its user base.
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