Credit: Frank Franklin II (AP Photos)
Yahoo has purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion dollars, but what does it mean? What possible use could Yahoo have in something that has very little monetary value in it as it stands? What is Yahoo planning to do with Tumblr? These are but a few questions that have to be asked about the purchase of Tumblr, a blogging service that is popular with young adults and teens.
Is Yahoo looking to make Tumblr the next Twitter or Facebook? Tumblr is pretty much there. It drops all the extra, unneeded stuff of Facebook for a more traditional blogging format, but gives you more wiggle room than Twitter to get your full thoughts out without anything extra needed. Being a social platform you’ll find people who share your thoughts, interests, dislikes, and so on—all of this without the messy business of worrying about your information or dealing with people from high school and college whom you haven’t spoken to in several years.
Tumblr simply allows for you to digest news, viewpoints, and express your points and get input—like any good, full bodied blog. There’s still the issue of responses within reblogs being a bother to read at times, but overall it’s the best online social platform at the moment. Take the time people would spend on MySpace in the early-to-mid 2000s and Facebook in the late 2000s to now and dash in just a river of comedic animate gifs, macros, and posts and you have Tumblr in a nutshell.
Tumblr sports some 100 million users—most of which are young and want nothing to do with Yahoo. Not to show my age, but the average age for a Tumblr user would’ve been using Yahoo Groups, Chat, and Clubs for the same thing a little more than 15 years ago. Since then, there hasn’t been anything “hip” or “cool” about Yahoo. Their instant messaging platform even seems a bit aged when put alongside an all-in-one like Digby, an online all-in-one like imo, and yes Skype. With that said, Yahoo Instant Message still has the better emoticons of services and if you’re not trying to do anything fancy YIM is still fairly functional…in an “I don’t mind getting your message 5 to 10 minutes later” kind of way.
Related Story: Ads Come To Tumblr Mobile Apps
What Does Tumblr Offer?
Besides a much needed youth infusion for Yahoo, Tumblr offers nothing really. One of the things that David Karp mentioned was that he wanted to monetize Tumblr in some way this year without affecting the creative nature of the site. There have been a few nonintrusive ads, but nothing that could definitely generate money. With the amount Yahoo plunked down on Tumblr, they’re going to be looking at throwing ads or something on Tumblr to make it worth it.
While Karp will be left in charge of Tumblr and the plan is for it to be ran as usual, it’s only a matter of time before changes—mostly unwanted by the users that make Tumblr Tumblr. Looking at the blogging site as an observer and someone who has used it, there’s very little money to be made off of it as it is. The same problem pestered Twitter before it was decided to try ads and build a streaming media empire. Facebook did without advertisements early on, but eventually got with ads and social gaming. YouTube didn’t become profitable until a few years ago when it embraced ads in videos and just recently paid subscription channels.
What is there is something that Twitter and Facebook also had at the start: a strong, user base. If you get that user base and hang on to it for a few years, other younger users will see how “cool” it is and want to join as well, then you break out with making money from it. That’s what happened with MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. This has already been done and there’s 100 million+ people to draw revenue from, however it will take a jewel thief’s touch to do it without causing people to leave Tumblr.
Karp has said that onsite advertising doesn’t do it for him while Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has said that Tumblr will stay true to its users. If that’s to happen that means no advertisements on the site, but then that would mean that Yahoo isn’t going to see this investment pay off immediately.
Mayer has said on ABC’s Good Morning America that Tumblr would be used as content for Yahoo News and other Yahoo main page services just as an example, but whatever she told the Yahoo board to get them to sign off on $1.1 billion must have been utterly dynamic.
What Could Happen To Tumblr
Honestly, Tumblr could very well not be changed at all. It could have no ads, do nothing for Yahoo, and end up like GeoCities only with more members regularly using it until the next thing comes along. This could be sometime down the line, though. The delicate dance of making Tumblr a money generating machine without killing Tumblr’s spirit and alienating the 100 million+ ambassador users will be a very interesting one to watch.