The hybrid of the social network and the blog is resurfacing, and it’s not because of Elon Musk

It was one of those big names with an old flavor of the first Web – called – 2.0. With Facebook, Twitter or MySpace, Tumblr has positioned itself as a strange hybrid between social networks and blogging platforms.. Today, fifteen years after its founding, Tumblr is also a hybrid halfway between the success of some of the platforms to which we have compared them (Facebook or Twitter) and the failure of others (MySpace).

However, since its acquisition by Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com and derived from its version open-source (WordPress.org) seems to be starting to turn around. Although he still has a long way to go.

The rise and fall of Tumblr

Old Tumblr interface

Tumblr, designed as a microblogging space, was created by software consultant David Karp in 2007. At a time when longer blogs were dominating on platforms like Blogger and WordPress, Tumblr offered a short, gif-heavy experience. and memes that have attracted millions of people. There was a time, in fact, when Tumblr surpassed WordPress.com in number of blogs. It had become a kind of ecosystem in which people shared the craziest part – in a good way – of Internet culture, but also a lot of adult content, which, as we will see, would end up being its propellant and at the same time the main nail of his coffin.

In 2013, in full success, it was bought by Yahoo for more than a billion dollars. “Tumblr is redefining creative expression on the internet,” said then-CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, who would later prove far more wrong than fair, and not just with the acquisition of Tumblr.

Tumblr was then a site with enormous potential but without the ability to monetize. Something similar, although much more accentuated, than what is currently debated with Twitter, where his name has resurfaced under the idea that some users of the social network that Elon Musk has just acquired had migrated to Tumblr because of the acquisition of the tycoon. It seems like they’ve been residual, but what’s becoming increasingly clear is that Tumblr is having an unexpected little resurgence.

Automattic (WordPress) and Generation Z to the rescue of Tumblr

When Verizon finally took over Yahoo, Tumblr hit rock bottom. Karp left due to disagreements and the parent company decided to ban adult content on the platforms after Apple pulled its app from the AppStore over the issue. It was in 2018.

Its users are estimated to have dropped by more than 40% since then. So when the company behind WordPress bought it in 2019 for just $3 million, it was considered buying a corpse. What did Automattic see there?

Automattic CEO and WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg has repeatedly acknowledged that they have not achieved what they wanted and in January of this year Jeff D’Onofrio who had been their CEO is suddenly gone.

While TikTok, Instagram, and increasingly Twitter deliver the content they think their users love straight to their screens, Tumblr is yet to be researched.

But before he left, his former CEO revealed that Tumblr had a big green plan: In 2022, Tumblr reports that there are 9.4 million daily posts on the platform, up from 84 million in 2014. But with 90s and early 2000s nostalgia on the rise among Gen Z, it seems possible that a rebirth of the platform. In January, D’Onofrio said half of the platform’s active users and 71% of its new users are from Generation Z, who have turned the platform into something of a safe place to share memes and brief thoughts. which, in a way, they made their own.

Many factors have made and make Tumblr different. The main: a very basic algorithm compared to other social networks that relies on user request rather than pushed content. While TikTok, Instagram and increasingly Twitter discard content that you think your users like right on their screens, on Tumblr you should always seek it out. And this call to be in control seems to be, again, well valued.

The challenge, making it profitable

In the past year alone, Tumblr has tried to monetize through a paid membership with no ads (sponsored posts don’t appear for these users), an option to tip creators, and Hia model of promotion or advertisements, so to speak, but without any segmentation and very cheap.

There is still a lot to recover for Tumblr, which It fell from 600 million visitors a month before the ban on erotic content in 2018 to just 300, but it seems that a new loophole has opened up for her. We will see its continuity.