Yahoo’s recent acquisition of Tumblr has made news. Geeta Padmanabhan finds out why the Internet blogging service attracts such a sizeable young population
Tumblr. (yes, that full-stop completes the name) is in the news after a gap of months. Yahoo is now the official owner of this Internet blogging service — it is paying founder David Karp $110 million to stay with Yahoo for the next four years. This is part of the $1.1 billion sale price Karp/Tumblr investors and Yahoo had agreed upon. What Karp gets is the “retention payment”.
Why is Tumblr so important to Yahoo? Till the story of its possible acquisition broke out, we hadn't heard much of this microblogging/social networking site, had we? Our idea of cool are FB and Twitter, but a substantial number of Tumblr's users are teens and young adults. Go there if you want to be seen in that crowd.
I did. It is a treat in terms of visuals. The modern art feel from the opening page onwards is as creative as it is pleasing to the eye. Since 2007, Tumblr has gathered some 110 blogs, 51 billion posts and 17,000 meet-ups. Yet, it has retained its sense of freshness. Youth power?
Log in and you are invited to join the party. Seven icons make the gateways: text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio and video. You can launch your blog and dress it up with different themes, so don't pass up the offer. Most theme ideas are free but some will burn a hole in your e-wallet. One pixel-union motif carries a price tag of $49. You can keep your blog private (password protected) or let it go public.
No word limit
Tumblr is generous: it imposes no Twitter-like word-limit. But length-limit is irrelevant here: most posts are short on words and heavy on videos, pictures and animation. To find people and topics of interest, you scan tags and blogs by subject matter. I leave my thumb-prints in many places hoping, with a little bit of luck, the charm, wit and cleverness of my posts would get readers to follow me back to my page. I also link my tumblr account to Twitter and share my posts on my Facebook Timeline. Great! That is more traffic. Come on friends, rally around!
Click on the heart icon to “like” someone's post. You can also share what you read on others' pages. Just call it “reblogging”. Tip: Drag a “bookmarklet” to the bookmarks bar on the browser to share stuff from the web. You have buddies who prefer to listen than to read? No problem. Tumblr has a way out: dial 866-584-6757 and leave a message that your followers will hear within seconds. You will need an account configuration for this facility which will ask for your caller-ID info. More tips are yours, so check it out.
Is Tumblr an anything-goes site? At first sight it would seem so. I found material that some might consider porn — but this virtual island is ruled by young adults who have not seen enough winters to wear a coat of modesty or “old-age” crustiness. Tumblr does have user guidelines that are quite extensive. The rules prohibit, inter alia, malicious bigotry, content which is considered harmful to minors, sexually explicit videos. “If you regularly post X-rated content, respect the choices of people in your community who may not want to see it,” the guidelines tell you. “Flag your blog (Settings page of each blog will help) as NSFW (Not Suitable for Work). “This won't prevent you and your readers from using any of Tumblr's social features,” the site assures you, “but rather allows Tumblr users who don't want to see NSFW content to avoid seeing it.”
Critics have dubbed the coming together of Yahoo and Tumblr as “odd coupling”, but supporters say the acquisition has brought in the hip demographic that Yahoo lacked. Will that convert into revenues? Tumblr introduced ads to the Radar/Spotlight sections and mobile version of its site, where it highlights content and accounts. Since May users have been seeing sponsored ads on their Dashboard/blogs. Yahoo promises no more than four ads in your feed a day; ads will be identified by a dollar-sign on the top right-hand corner.
Users have freaked out, but what are a few revenue-generating ads on a site of mind-blogging art and videos — check the one on sushi! It is a difficult balancing act; Yahoo has to keep Tumblr's user-base while finding a way to add revenue sources.
About one thing though, there is no contest. Tumblr must be allowed to grow on its own lines, Yahoo providing the resources. “We will run this like eBay runs PayPal, Google handles You Tube,” said Ms. Mayer.
- Karp, 27, started Tumblr in 2007, after he dropped out of high school.
- There will be no dramatic changes in Tumblr promised Yahoo CEO.
- Changes might disaffect existing users.