Why it matters: Tumblr remains one of the most popular destinations on the web. However, that popularity has not translated into profit for parent company Verizon who is attempting to sell the blogging platform. It's unknown who is willing to invest in an unprofitable venture, especially one who shed nearly 100 million users in just 30 days over an unpopular business call.
Tumblr is up for sale (again) as its parent company Verizon doesn't seem to know to what to do with it according to The Wall Street Journal. Verizon has talked to several potential buyers but nothing is confirmed yet.
Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo, who itself was subsequently bought by Verizon in 2017. Yahoo, together with the earlier acquired AOL, were collectively known as Oath as Verizon tried to get into online services. Oath was eventually renamed Verizon Media Group.
Yahoo acquired Tumblr in 2013 for $1.1 billion to help get the former internet stalwart back into relevance again. Unfortunately, even under recent Verizon leadership, Tumblr has yet to have any real profit with Verizon writing down Tumblr's value by $230 million in 2016.
In order to sell interested buyers on the worth of Tumblr, Verizon reportedly "touted the sports, entertainment, email and film-making brands within the media business." Verizon execs also wanted to emphasize how much reach Tumblr has with its over 400 million blogs and over 430 million monthly users, though the latter has seen a steep year-over-year decline from the ~600 million users it touted in early 2018.
The free nature of Tumblr means that revenue growth is limited unless something is done to entice users to pay. It also doesn't help that Tumblr received some backlash for its outright porn ban last year. It's likely that the company sought to be more appealing to a younger demographic as well as advertisers. While the site had a pretty sizable amount of adult content, the company wanted to extinguish the child pornography that was popping up on the site. The removal of that content also led to the outright ban on porn altogether. The backlash resulted in millions of people abandoning the site though the company has stood by its decision.
Despite the mass exodus from Tumblr, the site still remains fairly popular as 400 million users is still nothing to sneeze at. Verizon remains confident in its online content strategy with CEO Hans Vestberg stating, "I hope there is no doubt about our commitment to Verizon Media Group and how it fits into our whole strategy."
The question is, does Tumblr fit into that strategy? It doesn't look it.
Update: Pornhub recently put out a statement to BuzzFeed that it's "extremely interested" in purchasing Tumblr. It looks like it plans on bringing back the NSFW content as a "safe haven" for those who want to express their sexuality.