Tumblr has finally found the “perfect partner in Automattic,” says Verizon
Verizon is finally unburdening itself with the sale of Tumblr, a once promising social media platform that the carrier acquired when it purchased Yahoo in 2016. It has been reported that Verizon sold Tumblr to Auttomatic, the parent company of WordPress, for a mere $3 million, a crushing drop in value from the $1.1 billion Yahoo paid for it six years ago.
Verizon combined Yahoo with AOL, which is had purchased the previous year, to create a “new rival in mobile media technology.” Thus, Oath, Verizon’s media group was born from the assets of Yahoo and AOL. Unfortunately, only a year and a half after Oath was developed, and billions of dollars later, Verizon began hinting that it was virtually worthless and valued at just $200 million on paper.
Tumblr was just a small piece of a larger puzzle, but one that Verizon, and Yahoo before it, struggled to make profitable.
While the short-form blogging platform performed well in its early days, it was soon outpaced by competitors like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Further, many speculate that Yahoo purchased the platform with no clear plan to integrate it into Yahoo’s other operations or how to turn it into the advertising cash cow that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer intended it to be.
“Nobody at Yahoo ever understood what they bought and what Tumblr was,” John Matthews, managing director of investment bank DeSilva+Phillips had said in 2017 as conversations about Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo circulated. “If you don’t understand something, how can you sell it?”
Tumblr still, of course, has a dedicated community, but that dedication was put to the test last December when Verizon banned adult content on the platform. For many, Tumblr offered a more inclusive adult content community than other popular sites, and the ban led many to boycott the blogging platform.
According to Automattic Inc.’s CEO Matt Mullenweg, there are no plans to reverse the ban. “We’re not going to change any of that,” he stated.
Despite its rocky, and perhaps disappointing, past, Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan expressed optimism about the platform and its recent purchase. “Tumblr is a marquee brand that has started movements, allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms,” Gowrappan said in a statement. “We are proud of what the team has accomplished and are happy to have found the perfect partner in Automattic, whose expertise and track record will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”
This “perfect” partnership Gowrappan referred to might result in WordPress and Tumblr sharing services and functionality, reports suggest. Tumblr has a functioning mobile interface that could be used to leverage WordPress’ own mobile platform.
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