Yesterday, Tumblr Staff announced to its users that Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com, plans to acquire Tumblr. Though the official post does not mention any details, it has been reported that Verizon sold Tumblr for less than $3 million. Automattic will also absorb 200 of Verizon’s employees, however other details of the deal remain undisclosed.
The official blog post states, “We couldn’t be more excited to be joining a team that has a similar mission. Many of you know WordPress.com, Automattic’s flagship product. WordPress.com and Tumblr were both early pioneers among blogging platforms.”
1/2 I’m very excited about Tumblr’s next chapter and looking forward to working with @photomatt and the entire team at Automattic.
I’m most excited for what this means for the entire Tumblr community. There is much more to do to make your experience a better one, and I’m super
— Jeff D'Onofrio (@jeffdonof) August 12, 2019
Launched in 2007, Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website which allows users to upload and share photos, music, art and post short blogs. It hosts more than 450 million blogs and was earlier considered as one of the major players among social media platforms.
In 2013, Yahoo acquired Tumblr, for $1.1 billion when the company was one of the leading social media platforms. Due to poor returns from Tumblr, Yahoo downgraded its value to $230 million and in 2017, Verizon undertook it as part of its Yahoo acquisition.
In December 2018, Verizon announced its new policy to ban all adult content on Tumblr. This new policy came days after Tumblr was removed from Apple’s iOS App Store over a child pornography incident. The new policy made many users infuriated, leading to further decline in its user count. Two months ago, it was reported that Verizon was keen to sell Tumblr, in order to compensate for its unattainable revenue targets. Automattic acquiring the company is seen as a good sign by many, as WordPress.com is one of the most popular open source blogging platforms.
Although, Tumblr has suffered from inconsistent ownerships all along, it does have a loyal user base. Automattic’s Chief Executive Officer, Matt Mullenweg believes that the new ownership and investment will make Tumblr blossom. “I was very impressed with the engagement and activity Tumblr has continued to have,” he said on Hacker News.
In an interview with Wall Street Journal, Mullenweg says this is the biggest acquisition for the company in terms of price and headcount and mentions that Tumblr will act as as a “complementary” site to WordPress.
Although Automattic enables adult content on its own platform, Mullenweg has said that Automattic will continue with Verizon’s policy of no adult content on Tumblr, “Adult content is not our forte either, and it creates a huge number of potential issues with app stores, payment providers, trust and safety.”
I think the internet and adult content seekers will be fine. Life finds a way.
— Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) August 12, 2019
Many users are annoyed with Automattic’s decision to not support adult content on Tumblr.
Apps that allow NSFW content that are on the App Store: Twitter, Reddit, Pixiv, Discord, Snapchat, Imgur, Gfycat
Tumblr's new owners: "Sorry if we want to stay on the App Store we have to keep NSFW content off our platform, thank you bye" https://t.co/nQhQwduFjo
— Chris 💙🦁 (@countchrisdo) August 13, 2019
Another user tweeted that Twitter and Reddit both allow adult content, so Automattic should show some care for the people affected by the ban. He added, “No one wants the NSFW ban to stay, but I guess you’re fine with it as long as it lines your pockets.”
Another user says, “I’m curious why you would choose to maintain Verizon’s policy changes that alienated the majority of the user-base.”
Many users are, however, happy that Tumblr has finally found a stable host in Automattic.
This is pretty cool. Can’t think of a better owner today than Automattic for Tumblr’s huge creative publishing community. https://t.co/G9pVtpjKJ9
— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) August 12, 2019
Automattic (where I used to work) just bought Tumblr (where I consulted). I'm usually trepidatious about acquisitions, but knowing these two well, I think this could be a really great fit. Couldn't be worse than Yahoo/Verizon.https://t.co/1vQsMEezIi
— Derek Powazek 🌱 (@fraying) August 12, 2019
This is actually a good buy for Automattic and I’m intrigued.
— Steph, Human Interrobang‽ (@onalark) August 12, 2019
Some feel that Tumblr is a dead company and Automattics’ $3 million is down the drain.
— Colin Sullender (@shiruken) August 12, 2019
— Mukunth முகுந்த் 🏳️🌈 (@1amnerd) August 13, 2019
A user on Hacker News comments, “Surprised by this news. Tumblr has lost a ton of momentum since its policy change, and the site itself doesn’t have a very strong “brand” audience attached to it.”