Yahoo buys Tumblr

Yahoo announced today that it is buying blogging site Tumblr for $1.1bn, mostly in cash. In the posting, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made clear that the cooler, younger company would not be smothered by her firm's notorious corporate culture, under which many other purchases have withered and died.

I’m delighted to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to acquire Tumblr! We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.

Yahoo! even set out to prove its noble intentions with an amusing animated GIF, adorning its post with a flashing remix of the "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON POSTER", edited to say "NOW PANIC AND FREAK OUT."

Amid the announcement's language of respect and cultivation, however, Reuters' Ant DeRosa spotted a purple sheep already making itself comfortable:

This is the first scary part of the new post—Yahoo Tumblr: Marissa Mayer writes: “Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!’s personalization technology”

But as we all know, Tumblr's users have been clamoring for Yahoo personalization technology. This pressure from within surely played a strong role in shareholders' calculations. Meyer also promised seamless advertising opportunities that enhance the user experience, another well-defined idea that's sure to please the crowd.

Indeed, what DeRosa calls the "scary part" actually bodes well for the heightened efficiency of Yahoo!'s usually-tardy purchase management and integration efforts. In the past, it's often taken several months or even years before any change at all is heralded in one of its many acquisitions.

Here, though, it took mere a mere 24 seconds to read from the introductory paragraph to Yahoo!'s announced intention to make a curiously unappetizing, corporate-sounding revision to the product. Using this as a normalizing metric for future developments, I feel confident that we can offer the following predictive timetable for the ongoing evolution of Tumblr.

8 a.m., Monday, May 20, 2013 — Official announcement.
9:32 a.m. — First implementation of traditionally unappetizing, corporate-brained, systematic revision of the product.
9:40 p.m. — Reports filter in of infant seizures, nightmares, following the first major apperance on national television of Tumblr CEO's eyes.
10 a.m. — First big revision to Tumblr's terms of service. Yahoo reports in a press release that the company had observed "positive uplifting sharp intakes of breath" from users paid to read them.
12 p.m. — Brunch.
1:15 p.m. — It is observed that there has yet to be a second unappetizing, corporate-brained, systematic revision of the product. People start getting nervous.
2:18 p.m. — Yahoo! announces that Tumblr! will be profitable by 3 p.m.
2:50 p.m. — EXIF data stripped from photos; it is Terry Semel's fault.
3:40 p.m. — Tumblr! press releases start to contain the phrase "a good fit" with alarming regularity.
4 p.m. — Just when everyone thought it would never happen, a great mobile app is launched. In the resulting flurry of excitement and social activity, long-dormant accounts are reused for the first time since the morning. Embarassing hours-old avatars are updated.
4:45 p.m. — Tumblr! logo appears in a leaked powerpoint under the heading "Sunset."
4:47 p.m. — Yahoo! denies that Tumblr! is to be sunsetted.
4:55 p.m. — Yahoo! announces that Tumblr! is to be sunsetted.
4:55:07 p.m. — Buzzfeed runs a list titled "40 bizarre Tumblr pages from the web's good old days."
4:56 p.m. — Yahoo! announces that Tumblr! is to be turned off in three minutes.
4:58 p.m. — The Internet Archive completes a massive project to backup Tumblr before it goes away.
5 p.m. — Yahoo! announces its acquisition of Medium.


    1.  That’s what they earned back after just a couple of months of cracking down on all those lazy, work-at-home bastards.

    2. I’m surprised Yahoo can buy a Venti Latte. Didn’t they used to be a website or something?

  1. Mebbe I’m old, but I don’t get tumblr.  Other than the VERY few ones that I have seen that were put together by a pro for a specific reason like NatGeo, pretty much every single tumblr page I’ve seen is just a collection of linked up photos with zero context. 
    Hey, check out this cool design!  OK, where can I find that?  Click, click, click, click.
    Awesome.  700 people re-blogged something with no reference to what the hell it is.

    1. Tumblr was somewhat designed for content-creators. If you post your work on Tumblr and it gets reblogged, then all of those reblogs will list you (correctly) as the source. 

      Unfortunately, as you pointed out, if you’re just sharing something you found, then there is no proper way to pass the source along. The best you can do is list the source in your post and pretend that people actually read the source post. 
      Furthermore their messaging system is absolute piss. Like what the hell.

      1. Like I said, it’s complete crap.  :)
        It’s for the nano-second attention span crowd.  The ones that don’t read anything anyway, so I guess that’s the point..

    2. Like Twitter, tumblr is what you  make of it. If you follow people who are interesting to you, you will find interesting things on your dashboard. If you make interesting things and tag them appropriately, people will eventually follow you.

      But yeah, there’s lots of crap, and lots of teenagers.

  2. I don’t get all the Yahoo! hate. I’m not a huge fan of Yahoo! in general, but they’ve got some great tech. And they’ve shown in the past that they are able to not completely screw up a purchase if kept independent (see Flickr). Admittedly they didn’t do Flickr any favors by ignoring it, but they also didn’t destroy it. Shows that a great product, even if ignored, can survive. And it seems as if under Meyer they’re at least willing to spend a little money to buff up their properties.

      1. I didn’t say they handled it well, but it’s arguable that they’ve killed it. Getting the shaft certainly seems apt, and so perhaps we should say that Yahoo! has a tendency to let things wither on the vine. But hopefully under Meyer Yahoo! will do a better job of shepherding investments like this. I dunno what’s in the cards for Flickr, it seems likely to stick around, and maybe with a little TLC it’ll regain some of its former glory.

    1.  Also Delicious was one of the best bookmark services, and was similarly shafted once Yahoo! took over. Development and feature implementation stagnated. Hopefully they’ve learned from their myriad of buyout failures.

      1. Ha, yeah. I thought about mentioning Delicious as a counterpoint (I’m still a user). Delicious managed to escape and survive from the dungeons of Yahoo!, though it’s hard to see them gaining as a player in the space they occupy. I guess that’s the real moral of the story. Yahoo! has an eye for great companies, but hasn’t been good at leveraging them. Maybe is even able to actively destroy them. Hopefully that changes under current leadership.

        1.  ‘Yahoo! has an eye for great companies’
          in the same way as a poacher has an eye for a great elephant.

    2. Mayer’s stated priorities are “God, family, and Yahoo – in that order.”

      Which might suggest that the fuckyeah[thing i like] culture won’t fare especially well if she actually visits the site her company just purchased.

  3. From the stakeholder side of the equation:

    Tumblr is incredibly popular amongst people microblogging gifs and jpegs.

    Especially pr0n gifs and jpegs.

    When (not if) Yahoo disturbs the “just don’t upload pr0n videos or child pr0n but otherwise we don’t mind about your content” balance, the users will migrate away to some other platform that lets them be young, free, and sexah out of sight of their elders and employment.

    There is literally nothing special about tumblr’s technology or code. The attractive thing about it is that you can draw, paint, write about, post, look at, and discuss stuff without a nanny coming along and taking it down because it has a breast feeding mother, without it getting you fired by a snooping boss, without getting beaten and/or disowned by intolerant parents or insular geographic society,

    And you can make it look attractive with a huge variety of CSS overlays.

    Yahoo’s “personalisation technology” is going to make a bunch of people just stop signing in to Yahoo and stop visiting Yahoo, if it “personalises” their searches with their favourite late-night Tumblr browsing.

    1. Personally, I want to see the press-release headlined: Yahoo Acquires Hip Youth-Driven Service for Bisexual Pron and Budding Photographers…Yahooooooo!

  4. Good luck, Tumblr fans. These takeovers are death for the purchased product more often than not. I’m still stinging from Twitter’s takeover of Posterous. Everyone was promised that Twitter would invest and improve it, but inside of a year Posterous was excremented.

    1. At least they have Mayer going for them. If she can keep Tumblr relevant and spread some of that “cool” factor to Yahoo, then she’s earned her pay. But that’s a pretty big “IF”.

  5. What do Yahoo actually do?
    I know the name, and have done for the past 15-or-so years, without ever going to their site or anyone giving me a reason to.
    Yahoo occupies the same part of my brain as altavista. Is that still a thing? Do *they* have a billion dollars just sitting around, too?

  6. Yahoo: the best place to read totally insane comments by 60-something ultra right wing nut-jobs.
     I don’t know why I still have a Yahoo email account. I really should change to gmail.

  7. Everyone knows that cheetahs run really fast.  So if you eat a cheetah, you’ll be able to run fast too.  That’s math.  Math is smart. Yahoo is smart because they understand math.

  8. If I have to announce my age every time that I want to see a dick, I’m going to be very put out.

  9. Correctly identified Beschizza’s brand of humor (my RSS reader won’t show the author).

  10. Odd mix. Tumblr generates alot of adult pron content.
    CEO Mayer is very christian and devoted to god.
    Just saying…

  11. There’s a part of me that hopes Yahoo runs it into the ground.  Because I’ve seen some very nice content and people on tumblr, but trying to navigate the site or find anything on it makes my eyes bleed.

    So that selfish part of me wants it to be completely ruined so that these nice people will swarm to some other site with a better interface and maybe even I can join them. 

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