Wishing Tumblr better luck than GeoCities

Let’s hope Tumblr survives a deal with Yahoo, which pulled the plug on GeoCities.

Remember GeoCities, an online community like Tumblr? Founded in 1994, GeoCities was the third most visited site on the World Wide Web by 1999 when it was bought by Yahoo for $3.57 billion in stock, according to Wikipedia. You could build your own website for free on GeoCities. But it became less popular after Blogger, WordPress and other blogging tools and social networks were launched. Yahoo closed down GeoCities in 2009. Now GeoCities is available only in Japan.

GeoCities was not the only online community dumped by Yahoo.

Remember Yahoo! 360°? That was a social networking and personal communication portal made available by Yahoo in 2005. But Yahoo stopped developing it in 2008, according to Wikipedia.

Flickr, acquired within a year of its birth by Yahoo in 2005, has had better luck. It is as popular as ever and gaining new users, according to Wikipedia. But it’s a photo-hosting service and not faced the same kind of competition as GeoCities and Yahoo! 360°, which had to contend with the likes of Blogger, MySpace and WordPress.

Misgivings are being expressed on Tumblr about a deal with Yahoo. “Yahoo will ruin Tumblr just like it ruins everything else,” commented one Tumblr user.

Yahoo is not the only big company which has had problems running online communities. NewsCorp acquired MySpace only to sell it off after it was overtaken by Facebook.

Tumblr CEO and co-founder David Karp, 26, is close to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, 29, wrote Om Malik on Giga Om, speculating on the possibility of a last-minute Facebook-Tumblr deal.

But Facebook is not really a better fit for Tumblr. Freewheeling Tumblr, where one can have more than one account, is more like Reddit, in my personal opinion. Facebook is more like LinkedIn.

Tumblr should stay independent, wrote one Tumblr user, unhappy about any deal with Facebook or Yahoo.

Yahoo’s reported $1.1 billion deal will be paying a premium for Tumblr, which has a reported valuation of $800 million, according to All Things D.

But a website’s worth only as much as its traffic. GeoCities wilted under Yahoo. Let’s hope Tumblr has better luck. On its home page, Tumblr claims it has 107.8 million blogs and 50.6 billion posts. Its worldwide traffic was at 117 million visitors in April, according to comScore. It has flourished for the same reason as GeoCities, by making it easy for users to post and publish what they like. That has never been Yahoo’s cup of tea. Yahoo is not known for user-generated content apart from the photos on Flickr.