Tumblr, once a major force in social media, founded by a 19-year-old and bought by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, has been unloaded by Verizon Media for far less than that to Auttomatic, the parent company of WordPress.
The companies did not disclose financial terms but multiple press reports pegged the value at less than $20 million. Auttomatic will absorb Tumblr’s 200 employees. For Verizon Media, the unit previously known as Oath, the deal marks the latest step in an ongoing effort to cut expenses as its parent focuses more on connectivity and 5G technology. Many once-formidable assets in its portfolio, including AOL and Huff Post, have seen their value ebb as the digital media landscape evolves.
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“Tumblr is one of the Web’s most iconic brands,” Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said in the official announcement. “It is an essential venue to share new ideas, cultures and experiences, helping millions create and build communities around their shared interests. We are excited to add it to our lineup, which already includes WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, Simplenote, Longreads, and more.”
Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan agreed, saluting Tumblr as a “marquee brand that has started movements, allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms.” Nevertheless, he said, the sale represents “the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process” that resulted in an exit from the business.