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Tumblr, the Former Home of Fandom, Sells For a Record Low Price

Long live the memes.

tumblr traffic graph since nsfw content ban

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.

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.

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.

(via The Verge, image: tumblr/Kaila Hale-Stern)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.