Yahoo Buys Tumblr: Yawn

Brian Fung
National Journal

It’s official: Yahoo has reached a deal to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Understandably, a chunk of Tumblr’s 117 million users are outraged over the news. They’ve been whipping up mocking parodies of a future Tumblr that’s been defaced and soiled by its new owner:

Click to embiggen. (shesouncool/Tumblr)

Apparently unsatisfied with heaping derision on Yahoo, some Tumblr users seem to be abandoning the service for the longtime blogging alternative, WordPress. In a blog post Sunday, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg reported that Tumblr posts were being migrated to his platform at a rate of 72,000 an hour—far higher than the normal 400 to 600 an hour, he said.

But, Mullenweg added, the chances Tumblr will end up losing a substantial portion of its user base are pretty low:

“For most folks,” he said, “habits overcome Internet outrage. Even if a million people left, that’s just about a week’s worth of sign-ups.”

A massive defection in absolute terms might ultimately mean nothing for Tumblr, and that’s a hopeful sign for Yahoo. It’s also a reminder that despite the momentary shock of the merger, it’s worth taking the longer view. And the longer view suggests that we may have entered the era of the billion-dollar buyout.

Sure, when Facebook purchased the photo-sharing service Instagram for $1 billion, CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed not to do “many more of these, if any at all.” But even if Zuckerberg never made another acquisition again, that won’t keep other would-be Instagrams from trying to achieve what these companies have. The addition of the Tumblr/Yahoo deal creates a list—a short one, to be sure, but all the more prestigious for whomever makes it on there next. Foursquare, perhaps?

Indeed, some people are already looking ahead to the next big milestone:

If Tumblr is worth $1 Billion. How much is Twitter worth? 10x?

— Lance Ulanoff (@LanceUlanoff) May 20, 2013

Facebook’s massive buy wasn’t a one-off event. It was just the start of a new age in tech start-ups and mash-ups, of which Yahoo is now a part.

Update: Tumblr's co-founder and CEO, David Karp, has broken his silence with a blog post signed, somewhat irreverently, "F**k yeah."