On the Tumblr Sale

August 19, 2019 • #

One of the big events in tech last week was that Verizon offloaded Tumblr to Automattic, Matt Mullenweg’s company most known for Wordpress.

I had my main blog/website on Tumblr back when it first launched in 2007, which I used for a number of years before migrating it over to this current self-managed iteration on GitHub back around 20111. At the time I loved Tumblr’s middleground between the long-form-friendly full Wordpress blog and the short-form nature of Twitter. Tumblr’s “tumblelog” concept easily supported either mode depending on what you wanted to post. Their post editor was fantastic (and still is, in my opinion), especially good back in the days before Medium when WYSIWIG editors we’re all pretty terrible. It was the place I learned to use Markdown in everyday writing, which I still use everywhere today, even in my own personal note text files.

Though I haven’t been a user of Tumblr in years, I have some negative and positive feelings about it. The negative is, of course, that Verizon is treating it like a fire sale “write down”, with the previously $1.1bn acquisition in 2013 degrading down to now selling it off to Automattic for a rumored price of “less than $3m”. It’s astonishing that something could lose that much value in the marketplace in such a short period of time.

The upside here is that there’s no better owner and future shepherd of the product than its new one. Automattic has been one of the best community-oriented companies for 15 years, with a publishing platform that powers a quarter of the internet. It’s sad to see it lose so much of it’s former self, but maybe it’ll see a revitalization under new ownership.

  1. I still have that Tumblr account up, but stopped ever posting to it quite a few years ago.