Tumblr faces an uncertain future with the news that Yahoo will be buying the company. The $1.1 billion deal is a huge gamble for the struggling company.
Tumblr has become the blog-site of choice for the 18-24 demographic since its founding in 2007. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer hopes that the acquisition will be the revenue boost the company needs to bounce back from the string of mishaps they’ve seen in recent years.
Since 2007, Yahoo has struggled with direction. A string of CEO, some of whom were unqualified for the job, lacked the vision necessary to compete with search engines like Google, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Yahoo brought in Mayer, an accomplished engineer with a computer-science degree from Stanford, after several failed attempts at changing the company. Scott Thompson, the last official Yahoo CEO, was let go after admitting he didn’t have the computer-science degree he listed on his resume.
But if it’s not handled correctly, the Tumblr acquisition could prove disastrous for Mayer.
Tumblr has been known for its laid-back approach to making money. Founder Dave Karp has resisted pressure to place ads on the site. This independence is what draws many users to the site.
“I don’t know exactly why, but my Tumblr is a part of my identity,” Alexia Tsotsis, co-editor of TechCrunch, said. “And for whatever reason, I don’t want to identify with Yahoo.”
Sentiments like Tsotsis’ are not without merit. Yahoo acquisitions have a tendency to lose their appeal once “Yahoo” is attached to their image. Sites like GeoCities and del.icio.us have completely fallen out of the mainstream. Even Flickr has been struggling against more recent photo sites like Instagram.
Instagram may provide the inspiration Mayer needs to know how to handle Tumblr. Facebook has maintained a hands-off approach their acquisition. Mayer seems to be headed down this track, since she’s keeping Karp on to run the platform.
Tumblr users won’t see a change overnight. But changes will be coming. This could be Yahoo’s last chance to get it right.