19 5 / 2013
First, I love Tumblr and want to keep loving it. And yes, it is immediately terrifying to hear that Yahoo (which, from a lot of our perspectives, is a laughably backwards and culturally irrelevant company) is going to own Tumblr. I sympathize.
But there are a number of circumstances in which this will not be a disaster. Let’s think:
WHY TO NOT BE TERRIFIED
- David Karp is being kept on as CEO for at least 4 years. Karp’s policies made Tumblr what it is.
- Tumblr is only as good as we (its creators) are. The idea that the cultural identity and creations we’ve fostered here have become worth a billion dollars is both inspiring and worrisome. But nevertheless, since we hold the value, we hold the power.
- Tumblr is being kept as a separate company. This is what Google did with YouTube and significant changes were very slow to come to YouTube (though they eventually came, and are still coming). My guess is there will be no significant changes to Tumblr for at least 12 months.
- They’re buying it to become more culturally relevant. They know that controlling the platform will reduce or even remove that relevance, so they would be idiots to do it.
WHEN TO ABANDON SHIP
- If Tumblr requires an account somehow linked to Yahoo.
- If David Karp steps down, no matter what the reasons are.
- If you have to pay to reach all of your followers (FACEBOOK!)
- If Yahoo begins censoring legal images and videos.
- If your dashboard becomes three columns by default.
- If more than 10% of the dashboard is taken up by advertising.
ADVICE TO YAHOO! PEOPLE
- Don’t do any of the above things or we will leave and you will own a billion dollar hole in the internet.
- Drop the exclamation point for chrissake…it’s gaudy and grammatically confusing.
Yes, I do wish that Tumblr (being a more interesting kind of company) could have found a more interesting kind of exit for its founders and investors than the old standby of selling to a floundering company trying to revitalize itself. But I think Yahoo and Marissa Mayer are intelligent enough to not totally fuck it up. Here’s hoping.
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