Did you read the Guardian riffing off me, reminding Yahoo screwed up big-time with GeoCities?
And did you read Tumblr founder David Karp’s memo announcing the marriage with Yahoo? He signed off with the F-word and a “yeah”. Rock on. This guy’s copacetic.
He was not being rude. It was Tumblr being Tumblr. And that is? Horny, “porny”, according to its critics, or just corny, funny, irreverent, unusual. No CEO ever signs off a staff memo with an “F… yeah”. But Karp had to get his message across to Tumblr users, carping at the deal, not to get their knickers in a twist but carry on as usual, that the marriage changes nothing.
And what Tumblr users do, of course, is post funny, bawdy, corny pictures, texts and videos when they are not being arty-farty, hip, cool or anything but square. Tumblr did not become a billion-dollar property – that’s what Yahoo is paying for it – by being just another website that never, ever let an F-word lurk in its hypertext.
Yahoo will keep its hands off Tumblr and give it its head so it can continue to be wilder than Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and – perish the thought – Yahoo.
Yahoo has screwed up before – big-time with GeoCities. As I wrote in an earlier post– and the Guardian now recalls – GeoCities was the third most visited website in the world when Yahoo bought it for $3.57 billion in stock in 1999. Yahoo pulled the plug on GeoCities, which died with a whimper, not a bang, in 2009. By then netizens had flocked to other, cooler sites. Now GeoCities is available only in Japan.
So if Yahoo wants Tumblr to flourish, which will be good for its own business, it won’t shake a stick or put a restraining hand on the naughty, wacky website.
I am a news junkie, not a Tumblr addict.
And that is why I find the $1.1 billion Yahoo deal for Tumblr so significant.
What it is telling me is that news junkies are no longer the prime target in the media business. What it wants is a younger audience more interested in memes and games than what’s happening in Somalia.
The Tumblr deal is significant for techies, too, who have built their websites around search optimization. Tumblr is not known for SEO. The search engine on Tumblr sites is crap. Instead you have to tag your Tumblr posts to make them findable. But that has not stopped it from growing into a billion-dollar property, with 107.8 million blogs and 50.6 billion posts. Its worldwide traffic was at 117 million visitors in April, according to comScore.
It is different – different from WordPress, different from Facebook, different from Twitter. It is Tumblr. And what the $1.1 billion deal is saying is, vive la difference. Pardon my French.