What just happened? Verizon has agreed to sell Tumblr to Automattic, who is known for its flagship product WordPress. As part of the deal, hundreds of people will work under the new leadership and the polarizing adult content ban will remain in effect.
Back in May, news broke that Verizon was looking to sell unprofitable web property Tumblr, after making an unpopular business call that caused 100 million users to leave the platform in the span of a single month. The carrier had acquired it from Yahoo in 2017 for $350 million, and up until now only Pornhub has shown any public interest in buying the failing business.
Now it seems Verizon has found a new owner for Tumblr who paid an undisclosed amount to take the service off their hands. That new owner is Automattic Inc., who is known for building the popular blogging platform WordPress. Details of the deal are scarce, but we do know that 200 employees will work under the new umbrella as part of the deal.
Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg told the Wall Street Journal that this is his company's biggest acquisition in terms of "price and head count." We don't know for sure, but Axios says the "price tag is well bellow $20 million," a far cry from the $1.1 billion that Yahoo paid for Tumblr back in 2013.
Tumblr is currently a shadow of its former self, after being one of the largest and most influential forces in the blogging and social scene. The acquisition makes sense, as the platform is still home to over 475 million users and would complement WordPress.com, since the values and objectives of the two seem to align.
It's worth noting the ban on adult content made under Verizon will remain in place, even though it caused an exodus of users when it came into effect. Tumblr founder David Karp left the company in 2017, and expressed his hope that his project will have a bright future. While Yahoo and Verizon failed to capitalize on its potential, Automattic could marry Tumblr with Wordpress in a way that might help it compete with social giants.
Tumblr wrote in a post, "Automattic shares our vision to build passionate communities around shared interests and to democratize publishing so that anyone with a story can tell it, especially when they come from under-heard voices and marginalized communities."