On Sunday Yahoo board apparently approved a $1.1B in cash acquisition of blogging platform Tumblr. The deal is supposed to be announced later today (Monday, 20/05/2013) in New York – where Tumblr HQ is.
Mayer’s move to purchase Tumblr is not all that out of left field. It is obvious from recent Yahoo purchases that Marissa Mayer wants to position Yahoo in the mobile and social media stratosphere. Furthermore, Mayer needs to make her company appeal to the younger audience and Tumblr is good property in those three regards. The Blogging platform has over 108 million blogs and around 5B page views monthly (both online and mobile strong), with many highly active users, 30 years and younger, who share thoughts, express feelings and connect with others with similar interests through the tags. So besides users and a lot of data, Mayer is getting a build-in social network with highly engaged audience.
For now, reports say David Karp will stay to head Tumblr, which will be run as separate entity from Yahoo. If this is true, Karp and Yahoo will face several important decisions to make. First of all, if they introduce aggressive advertising on the platform, that can turn off many of the users. But at the same time, the platform could have a problem attracting advertisers due to the high amount of sexually oriented posts – whether pornographic in nature or shipping (TV/Movie couples), as well as racy text content in the form of fan-fiction. As of now, the biggest worry of users is the possible censorship of content that might come after the purchase. With that comes fear of “copyright infringement” – there are many gifs, pics and various content used by the Tumblr community that might be seen as IP violations from the Yahoo legal team.
Another difficulty in front of Yahoo would be their understanding of the core Tumblr user base and how exactly they use the platform. Tumblr is not only a place for young people to connect, discuss their self-image problems, suicidal thoughts, teen problems through text/gifs/videos, and maybe most importantly Tumblr IS the medium where various TV/Movie/Music fandoms are communicating – they discuss their shows/musicians, favorite couples, engage in shipping wars, share opinions. The platform is part of a culture that could hardly be copied on a social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Unfortunately, Yahoo has a reputation of purchasing great startups – Flickr, Geocities and abandoning their development, and many Tumblr users are using the “Yahoo” tag on the social platform to express their anxiety over the possibility of Yahoo ruining the blogging network. Here are some of the opinions so far:
After the biggest news agencies broke the story and Tumblr users published their dissatisfaction, the founder of WordPress – Matt Mullenweg – shared in a blog post some interesting statistics that imports of posts from Tumblr to WordPress increased from 400-600 per hour (which he says is their regular rate) to over 72 000.
Although it is too early to say what kind of freedom Karp and his team will be given once the deal is reality, the coming months will be crucial to track what position Yahoo will take on many controversial subjects when it comes to IP, racial and sexual content that fill Tumblr tags, as well as the kind of freedom users are allowed to have. What advertising direction will be undertaken is also important, for I strongly believe that Tumblr is amazing platform to introduce and test interactive advertising that could rely on virality and sharing by users. Thus advertising will be less intrusive on users and provide a great way for engagement with one of the most highly coveted marketing segments – young users.
Will Tumblr have the Myspace ending is still uncertain. I hope Mayer has a better plan up her sleeve.