Tumblr, the Former Home of Fandom, Sells For a Record Low Price
Long live the memes.
Tumblr, the site that used to be home to all fandom discourse and now is somewhat of a joke, has been sold to Automattic (the site that owns WordPress) by Verizon for less than 3 million dollars. To fully let the weight of that sink in, I’ll remind you that when Yahoo first bought the site, they bought it for 1.1 billion. Dollars. Yikes.
congrats to tumblr on being worth less than this one fish pic.twitter.com/4FO2whfWkv
— unlicensed professional (@KrangTNelson) August 13, 2019
Verizon acquired Tumblr in 2017. They made a rather controversial choice to ban all adult content from the site in December 2018 (remember the meme about female-presenting nipples?), and traffic fell as a result. However, WordPress has no desire to reverse any ban set in place by the previous owners.
Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan released a statement reading “Tumblr is a marquee brand that has started movements, allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms. We are proud of what the team has accomplished and are happy to have found the perfect partner in Automattic, whose expertise and track record will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”
In 2019, Tumblr might seem like a joke that’s gone on for too long for those of us who survived Oncler fandom and various discourses that crawled straight out of hell (including one about whether grave robbing was bad), but back in the 2010-2016 days, it was the source of fandom culture. As Livejournal declined, many fans flocked to Tumblr to build fandom communities. There were the good, the bad, and the bizarre, but they’re all part of fandom history in the same way that the zines and online fanfiction archives are.
Of course, the jaw-dropping sell price of Tumblr generated the most commentary after the news broke yesterday.
For those keeping track: Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion and now it is worth $3 million. It was worth more before the porn ban (enforced with broken algos), plus they kept the nazis and shoved ads in people’s faces. pic.twitter.com/b3kqjPkRJF
— Violet Blue® (@violetblue) August 13, 2019
Yahoo: *to Tumblr users* We just bought the website. Don’t worry, though, we promise not to screw it up. pic.twitter.com/CGxk9PKNcS
— Courtney(ProjectSNT) (@ProjectSNT) August 13, 2019
absolutely losing my shit at realizing that Tumblr sold for approximately the amount of money the Homestuck Kickstarter made
— David Turnbull (@traceExcalibur) August 13, 2019
In a way, it’s somewhat sad to see the news regarding Tumblr being about a 900 million dollar loss. I cut my teeth on fandom culture there, and while there’s plenty of not so fond memories, I have plenty of fond memories of fandom there as well. It had cringey moments, sure, but not because of the reasons people who didn’t survive SuperWhoLock and Oncler fandom often apply to the site. There was cringe, and it was a bit of a weird social experiment, but it was also a formative fandom experience for better or worse for many. And it’s still somewhat a center of fannish activity, even if other platforms have attracted users in recent years and especially post-porn ban.
Who knows what will happen to the site going forward, but the memories will live on. The memes are pretty great too on the site, because hey, the entire userbase could’ve probably bought the site back and brought back the nipple for how low it sold for. You continue doing you, Tumblr, continue doing you.
The Tumblr community reacts to today’s news pic.twitter.com/XUkEd6Q6S1
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) August 12, 2019
(via The Verge, image: tumblr/Kaila Hale-Stern)
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