Verizon Communications Inc. has agreed to sell its blogging website Tumblr to the owner of popular online-publishing tool WordPress, unloading for a nominal amount a site that once fetched a purchase price of more than $1 billion.
Automattic Inc. will buy Tumblr for an undisclosed sum and take on about 200 staffers, the companies said. Tumblr is a free service that hosts millions of blogs where users can upload photos, music and art, but it has been dwarfed by Facebook, Reddit and other services.
This is a shocking acquisition. No doubt, this a good move for the preservation of blogs. I firmly believe Automattic will be a better steward of creators than Verizon (or was it called Oath?) would’ve been. I have long awaited the day where Tumblr and WordPress have publication parity. This has to be really excited for everyone at Tumblr. I mean this even has Tumblr veteran Marco Arment pumped:
Edit: it appears that Marco Arment deleted this tweet:
This is pretty cool. Can’t think of a better owner today than Automattic for Tumblr’s huge creative publishing community.
Now the hard question — what about the adult content ban? For now, it seems the ban stays in place. But, it’s really unclear if Matt will ever changed the policy. Regardless, the blogs at Tumblr will live on under the safe and profitable umbrella of Automattic.
Frankly, I’m worried for Tumblr. I’m also deeply concerned for the web.
But let’s back up for a bit. What even is Tumblr? Tumblr, the word — comes from tumblelogs. One could call it a sub-culture of blogging, but really that’s affording it too much. It’s really just an approach to blogging that was born out of the quick-and-dirty modus operandi many of us have. I mean, look at Instagram (or even Snapchat) stories. That quick-and-dirty framework is what catalyzes content to virility. It’s what draws people to the next big thing. Be it MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or even Ello (remember that one?). Anyways, Tumbling as it came to be known, is now colloquially synonymous with blogging. Thanks to Tumblr, blogging was truly born.
A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered linksstyle linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere. Robot Wisdom and Bifurcated Rivets are two older style weblogs that feel very much like these tumblelogs with minimal commentary, little cross-blog chatter, the barest whiff of a finished published work, almost pure editing…really just a way to quickly publish the “stuff” that you run across every day on the web.
I like this description because it gets right to the point (RIP to the 404s). Now that I think about it, my blog is basically a tumblelog of links, videos and highly-opinionated posts on technology. But the other half of my life is chronicled elsewhere on Twitter and Instagram. Frankly, I’m comfortable with that for now. But I would love for all of my content to live here on this blog. The quickly diminishing youth market of Tumblr knows that too.