Yahoo, your mom’s favorite default home page, decided to acquire Tumblr in a $1.1 billion deal yesterday, perhaps proving that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer can in fact revive the struggling search portal. But what, if anything, does this mean for the chaotic, meme filled blogging platform?
Probably a lot of nothing, for now at least. The fairest comparison, and the one I keep seeing thrown around, is Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. So far the social giant hasn’t Facebook-ified much of Instagram on the surface, letting the people who built continue to do what they do. As a part of the Yahoo acquisition Tumblr CEO David Karp will stay at Yahoo for at least four years, continuing to evolve and grow the product. Where we may start seeing changes is in Tumblr’s ad based strategy, which up until the last year or so hasn’t been much of anything. If you’re a Tumblr user you’re already seeing sponsored posts in your stream, which potentially may increase with Yahoo’s involvement.
What I wonder is if Mayer has a strategy to somehow tie all of these products together eventually, or will she leave Tumblr as a siloed experience, allowing it to continue to bloom as is? Tumblr certainly has a lot of valuable data (GIFs and memes ARE valuable in 2013) that Yahoo could use, perhaps in their search product or to supplement their news platform. Either way I think it would take a really savvy strategist to piece that puzzle together.
As for those already crying that “Yahoo is going to ruin Tumblr!!” I think that John Januzzi summed it up best, saying, “if yahoo buying tumblr ruined your life, it was already ruined.” Indeed.
Update: I was thinking about this move from a design standpoint and how it would be interesting if this was done partially as a talent acquisition. Peter Vidani and his team are constantly iterating on Tumblr, refining and polishing the experience. What if that team was utilized to improve Yahoo’s homepage? Or even consulted on strengthening the design of Flickr? Having a unified design front fur all of Yahoo’s products could definitely be powerful.