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Yahoo officially buys Tumblr for $1.1billion, as its users defect

Yahoo has officially announced its acquisition of blogging platform Tumblr for US$1.1-billion cash. The news was first broken on Twitter by the Wall Street Journal, seemingly confirming rumours of the buyout, which have been floating around for a few days now from Kara Swisher and the AllThingsD crew.

It’s not all great news though as it seems nearly 72 000 Tumblr users have moved their blogs to rival platform WordPress following the rumours, according to WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg.

Mullenweg, wrote in a blog post that the relationship between the two platforms have been quite friendly in the past and there has always been some “healthy import and export traffic both ways.” He then further writes that “imports have actually spiked on the rumors even though it’s Sunday: normally we import 400-600 posts an hour from Tumblr, last hour it was over 72 000.”

In the press statement announcing the purchase, Yahoo amusingly said that it would not mess it up:

Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business.

Yahoo is currently on a mission to make its company relevant again and quite “cool” for users. Last month the company launched a redesigned slick weather app that tapped into user photographs from Flickr. A Yahoo/Tumblr relationship would help the internet veteran tap into the youth blogger market.

“Tumblr is redefining creative expression online,” said Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. “On many levels, Tumblr and Yahoo! couldn’t be more different, but, at the same time, they couldn’t be more complementary. Yahoo is the Internet’s original media network. Tumblr is the Internet’s fastest-growing media frenzy. Both companies are homes for brands – established and emerging. And, fundamentally, Tumblr and Yahoo! are both all about users, design, and finding surprise and inspiration amidst the everyday.”

This news of defectors is quite tricky for both companies. If a lot of users leave Tumblr isn’t worth the US$1.1-billion Yahoo just paid for it. Also, it raises some harsh truths for Yahoo as a company if users would rather move platforms that be associated with it.

“News like this, whether from a friend or a competitor, is always bittersweet: I’m curious to see what the creative folks behind Tumblr do with their new resources, both personal and corporate, but I’m more interested to know what they would have done over the next 5-10 years as an independent company,” says Mullenweg.

For Tumblr founder, Yahoo!’s support is a welcomed addition to this company — he says the team won’t change and he will still be at the helm of Tumblr operations.

“Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing. But we’re elated to have the support of Yahoo! and their team who share our dream to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas. Tumblr gets better faster with more resources to draw from.”

Author | Mich Atagana

Mich Atagana
Mich started out life wanting to be a theoretical physicist but soon realized that mathematics was required. So, she promptly let go of that dream. She then decided that law might be the best place for her talents, but with too many litigation classes missed in favour of feminist... More


  1. Phil Simon

    May 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    This move has platform written all over it.

    A hefty price to pay? You betcha, but it’s a move that makes sense for Marissa Mayer et al.

    Think about it. At present, there’s no way for consumers to take Yahoo! in different directions. There are no Yahoo! proper apps (read: Android, iOS, and Facebook). You really can’t create your own content on Yahoo! (read: Amazon, iTunes, Facebook, even Google Plus).

    To be sure, Mayer still has her work cut out for her. One plank does not a platform
    make. It’s obvious to me, though, that she’s looked at the successful strategies of platform companies like the Gang of Four, Twitter, and others.

  2. Alan Alston

    May 21, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Wow; this post seems a bit sensationalist, and entirely factual.

    Mullenweg states above they are importing 72,000 posts per hour (at some or other point since Sunday), not that ‘nearly 72,000 users’ have moved across. Unless these are users with only one post each?

    On the flipside even if 72,000 users have moved since the deal was announced this seems insignifant compared to the fact that Tumblr signs up 120,000 new users per day..

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