So the inevitable has happened and Yahoo! has acquired Tumblr for a sum of $1.1 billion. The biggest worry for all parties now involved is to ensure a smooth transition of the blogging portal into the Yahoo! family. This has been a concern for not just the two companies, but also die-hard Tumblr users who are loathing the fact that Yahoo! is taking over their beloved space.
Yahoo! and Tumblr have already jumped in to clarify a few most important things that were haunting the blogging platform aficionados – Tumblr “will not be turning purple” and Yahoo! will not be exercising constraints on the content.
Even as Tumblr announced that it was going to be bought over by Yahoo!, it stressed upon the fact that it was going to remain independent from the Silicon Valley company. “Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing,” wrote David Karp, Tumblr’s CEO.
Tl;dr (Image Credit: Tumblr)
In the press event to announce Flickr’s redesign, Yahoo!’s CEO Marissa Mayer too emphasised on letting Tumblr’s creative pursuits flourish. She asserted that there was to be no restraint exercised on Tumblr’s pornographic content.
However, this is not the end of concerns Tumblr needs to address. There are questions about Tumblr’s development, advertising and how well will it fit in the Yahoo! ecosystem. The new partnership has help from unexpected quarters to address these issues. Hunter Walk, former Google member who was one of the first to join YouTube, knows a thing or two about making an acquisition fit in well with a big company. Walk draws parallels in his blog post between Google and YouTube back in 2007 and Yahoo! and Tumblr of today.
“Protect Tumblr from ‘Helpful’ Yahoos,” writes Walk. A brand new YouTube in Google was like a shiny new toy everyone wanted to play with. Eric Schmidt warned YouTube to be selective of the people they brought into the team. Walk says that Tumblr would do well if it took this advice too.
He also asks the companies to beware of locality bias in product development. Tumblr faces the issue of getting lost within Yahoo!’s ecosystem of services just like YouTube was within products like Blogger, Orkut and Picasa. “We were growing so quickly that if YouTube integrated or heavily promoted them, they could probably hit their quarterly growth target just from our marketing efforts,” writes Walk. This wasn’t where YouTube’s growth was coming from. So YouTube focused on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed and Tumblr. “The goal was to sew ourselves into the fabric of the web,” he says. And that’s pretty much what Tumblr should be aiming to do too.
Advertising has always been a spot of bother for Tumblr. With Yahoo! in the picture, chances are that Tumblr might shift focus heavily towards monetising the service. Walk advises the companies to look beyond short term monitisation ideas and look at the larger picture.
Walk makes good arguments towards helping Tumblr and Yahoo! make a smoother transition into being one big happy family. We’re hoping Mayer and Karp are listening keenly to their “mutual friend” Walk.
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