Technology

Automattic Acquires Tumblr, Six Years After Yahoo Acquired It For $1.1 Billion

Automattic has acquired Tumblr, a long-time friendly rival company, for an undisclosed amount.

Just six years after Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion, the company is said to have been acquired for “a nominal amount” from Verizon, who indirectly acquired Tumblr when it bought Yahoo in 2017, according to a report by Wptavern.

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg declined to comment on the financial deals of the acquisition, but a source familiar to Axios puts the deal “well south of $20 million.”

Tumblr is Automattic’s biggest acquisition yet in terms of product users and employees gained.

The microblogging and social networking website currently hosts 475.1 million blogs, for which Automattic will now assume operating costs. All 200 of Tumblr’s employees will be moving over to Automattic, bringing the company’s total employee count over 1,000.

Mullenweg took to the Post Status community Slack channel for an impromptu Q&A this afternoon where he discussed more of Automattic’s plans for Tumblr. He outlined a brief roadmap for Tumblr’s future that includes re-architecting its backend with WordPress:

  1. Move infrastructure off Verizon
  2. Support same APIs on both WP.com and Tumblr
  3. Switch backend to be WP
  4. Open source Tumblr.com client similar to Calypso

“WordPress is an open source web operating system that can power pretty much anything, including Tumblr.com, but it’s also a large property so will take a bit to figure out and migrate,” Mullenweg said.

Automattic doesn’t currently have plans to change the frontend Tumblr experience. Mullenweg said the Tumblr mobile app gets 20x more daily signups than the WordPress app. “It’s working amazingly well, despite being fairly constrained in what they can launch the past few years,” he said.

Tumblr changed its adult content policy in December 2018, banning pornographic content which reportedly accounted for 22.37 percent of incoming referral traffic from external sites in 2013 when it was acquired by Yahoo. Automattic has a similar content policy in place for WordPress.com and Mullenweg confirmed that the company does not plan to lift the ban on adult content.

“Adult content is not our forte either, and it creates a huge number of potential issues with app stores, payment providers, trust and safety… it’s a problem area best suited for companies fully dedicated to creating a great experience there,” Mullenweg said in response to questions on Hacker News. “I personally have very liberal views on these things, but supporting adult content as a business is very different.”

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