Tumblr: from fast-growing microblogging to shrinking platform

Poor Tumblr. Once a fast-growing microblogging site full of special interest groups and in-jokes worthy of a $1.1 billion bet from Yahoo. Now a shrinking platform sold to WordPress owner Automattic, reportedly for a tiny fraction of that price. Tumblr has been shunted from owner to owner like an unwanted pet. When Yahoo bought the site in 2013 it was supposed to be part of a rehabilitation master plan. Instead, Tumblr went largely ignored as bigger problems took hold. After missing Yahoo-set advertising targets in 2016, Tumblr was written down by $230 million in one quarter and $482 million the next. By the time Verizon Media blended Yahoo and AOL in a $10 billion deal, no one seemed particularly interested in what Tumblr had to offer… Tumblr’s downfall has been poor content moderation and advertising competition, the same issues that face every social network… Advertisers preferred Google and Facebook… Automattic, which also owns journalism site Longreads alongside WordPress, is a good owner for the platform. Existing overlaps between sites can be expanded… Ecommerce looks overly hopeful given the scale of competition. But subscriptions could work. Like messaging service Slack, WordPress provides a free model that can be upgraded for an annual charge. Tumblr fans may be persuaded to do the same. 

Lex.

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