It’s been a long and winding road for Tumblr, the blogging site that launched a thousand writing careers. It sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013, then withered as Yahoo sold itself to AOL, AOL sold itself to Verizon, and Verizon realized it was a phone company after all. Through all that, the site’s fierce community hung on: it’s still Taylor Swift’s go-to social media platform, and fandoms of all kinds have homes there.
Verizon sold Tumblr for a reported $3 million this week, a far cry from the billion-dollar valuation it once had. But to Verizon’s credit, it chose to sell Tumblr to Automattic, the company behind WordPress, the publishing platform that runs some 34 percent of the world’s websites. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg thinks the future of Tumblr is bright. He wants the platform to bring back the best of old-school blogging, reinvented for mobile and connected to Tumblr’s still-vibrant community, and he’s retaining all 200 Tumblr employees to build that future. It’s the most exciting vision for Tumblr in years.
Matt joined Verge reporter Julia Alexander and me on a special Vergecast interview episode to chat about the deal, how it came together, what Automattic’s plans for Tumblr look like, and whether Tumblr might become an open-source project, like WordPress itself. (“That would be pretty cool,” said Matt.)
Interesting discussion about the open future of Tumblr.
Matt Mullenweg discusses the transition to WordPress and the hope for alternative to today’s social platforms. I wonder what possibilities this might provide in regards to the IndieWeb? I also wonder how the possible increase of ads might impact the platform.
Colin Devroe suggests that Tumblr provides a new entry point for Automattic users, therefore provide solutions from ideas and full commerce.