Notwithstanding Tumblr’s user-generated racy content, this acquisition must be the hottest piece of tech news this last weekend: Tumblr coming under Yahoo’s fold in a $1.1 Billion acquisition. This move has got a lot of Tumblr fans up in arms against it.
Can we blame them? After all, Yahoo doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to the success of its acquisitions. But at the same time, this is a new Yahoo, one under ex-Google leadership, Marissa Mayer, the potential game charger that Yahoo needs. So with Tumblr being acquired by Yahoo, what should we be feeling?
Why this might be a bad thing
Remember Geocities? It was a web hosting service that was tremendously popular, and once was one of the most visited websites on the Internet. Yahoo proceeded to acquire the service and a few years later, the service declined in popularity as Yahoo let it get outdated and it stagnated as it didn’t grow with the times and was superseded with the flourishing of other platforms and social networks. Would Yahoo bring this apocalyptic doom to Tumblr as well?
Also, Tumblr is also popular among some of it’s users for its allowance of racy material that may also include what many would consider not safe for work. As many others have noted, this could potentially not sit well with the existing terms of service of Yahoo. Could this lead to a conflict within, and result in a compromise on Tumblr’s end?
Why it might be a good thing
All concerns aside, it’s important to highlight that Yahoo is under different leadership now than it was in the last decade. Ex-Google employee (number 20 to join Google, to be exact), arguably one of the most influential businesswomen in technology, Marissa Mayer sits on the throne of Yahoo as President and CEO, since July 2012.
Mayer has already done some shaking up, at least within the company, with moves such as eliminating stay-at-home jobs for Yahoo employees in an effort rebuild a collaborative culture, and also offering up free flagship smartphones to each employee of Yahoo to encourage development of Yahoo services on the major mobile platforms. While these moves don’t directly affect the customers of Yahoo, it’s interesting to see what Mayer could do as she focuses on the customer, beginning with this acquisition.
It also deserves mention that Flickr, another acquisition by Yahoo, has managed to remained popular, and just yesterday the photo-sharing service went through a big design and offering overhaul, under Mayer’s oversight. Another fact to keep in mind is that Mayer has also promised to not let Tumblr be ruined, literally:
“We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.”
Could Mayer make true on her promise, and set Tumblr to be the next Flickr and be the other jewel on Yahoo’s crown?
The Bottom Line: Why we just can’t tell yet
The truth is, regardless of your feelings on the topic, it’s way too early to tell how this will pan out. What’s my take? Sure, with Yahoo’s track record with acquisitions and less than impressive consumer impact the past few years, there are reasons to be concerned. But I believe there is more to be optimistic about in Yahoo’s future.
I’ve been reading on Marissa Mayer and her moves at Yahoo so far as CEO; if she continues the shakeups she’s been doing within the company, and bring that out in a customer-facing direction, we could possibly see some interesting quarters, if not years, from Yahoo.
I’ll stay cautiously optimistic. How about you?