Somewhat Topical / Words, Words, Words

Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion

David Karp should cut me a check for all the pictures of cats I’ve uploaded over the years.

As if it’s users needed another reason to be depressed, this micro-blog monsters fate is now in the hands of the adults at Yahoo. Tumblr’s creator David Karp, who had publicly stated he had no interest in money and never wanted Tumblr to succumb to ads, has finally caved. Every boy genius engineer has his price. From an economic standpoint, it’s about time a big kid worked at Tumblr. To the Tumblr community of bloggers, all hell has broke lose.

Marissa Mayer has acquired 10 companies since taking over the coveted position of CEO at Yahoo in 2012. While she is respectively trying to dig Yahoo’s sales-oriented claws into the youth audience by purchasing Tumblr, her maverick move may not necessarily equal dollar signs to Yahoo investors. I wonder if buying smaller mobile and tech engineering companies that fit in Yahoo’s business model is going to be successful, especially in an economy where there are so many competitors. Tumblr is not the only blogging platform. In the fast moving world of online moguls, WordPress and Blogspot not long ago held the first place position Tumblr finds itself in now. It will be a challenge for Mayer to make money off Tumblr while keeping the integrity Karp built.

I love Tumblr and am an avid user. Only recently did I think critically about how much it was worth. It has far surpassed Facebook as the most popular website for ages 13-25. But is this an age demographic that can deliver on Yahoo’s $1.1 billion dollar investment? Does the constant need for kids to check their Tumblrs really mean they will have money to spend? You can’t mention Tumblr without being somewhat concerned about the content. It is a mish-mash of porn, self-harm, Mean Girls references strewn haphazardly together on R-rated blogs. It is because of this content that some advertisers won’t touch Tumblr with a ten foot pole.

One of the most brilliant things about Tumblr is it’s anonymity. Perhaps that’s why it is so popular. They don’t want your name, they want to know what keeps you up at night. They are the social media site that goes deeper into peoples personalities. But it comes at a price. The term anonymous is the last thing advertisers want. How are they supposed to target different age, sex, and racial determiners if they don’t know who is running each site? Unlike Facebook, which gives companies detailed information about the user, Tumblr is their story and not their name.

For as terrifying as advertisements and “family-friendly” changes seem, it sure hasn’t stopped Tumblr users from uploading text. Tumblr hosts over 108.2 million blogs and tallied on May 19th 2013 more than 50.8 billion posts from around the world.

I believe it is possible to integrate advertisements onto Tumblrs dashboard. Yahoo will hopefully copy Google’s approach to the online advertising used on YouTube: find the most popular videos and cut the user in on the profits. Because after all, the content that each blogger creates is the blood and veins of the site. It is a huge challenge for Yahoo to determine who is behind the Tumblr mask, advertise to them, and reach the right audience. This may involve sifting through billions of posts, thousands for each user. I’ll be interested to see how Yahoo attempts to make sense (and money) out of chaos.


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