Verizon, which first acquired Tumblr in 2017 after it purchased Yahoo, started to explore a sale earlier this year. Automattic reportedly bought Tumblr for less than $3 million, according to Axios, a stunning drop in value from the $1.1 billion Yahoo paid for it in 2013.
“Tumblr is a marquee brand that has started movements, allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms,” Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan said in a statement. “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.”
Although it makes sense. Tumblr was once a hugely influential force in the blogging and social media sphere, but it become less so under Yahoo and then Verizon’s ownership. Meanwhile, platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube moved to fill the void and become much larger cultural forces as a result. Still, Tumblr does have a very active and dedicated community.
“It’s just fun,” Mullenweg told the Journal. “We’re not going to change any of that.”
One part of being a complement to WordPress is possibly sharing services and functionality, according to the report. Tumblr has a mobile interface that executives could use to leverage WordPress’ own mobile platform. It’s unclear what other services the two companies may share, but considering both are blogging platforms to some extent, there’s room for experimentation.
David Karp, who founded Tumblr in 2007, left the company in November 2017. He didn’t mention his reasoning at the time, but he wrote in a personal blog that he had faith in the company’s future. “I beg you to understand that my decision comes after months of reflection on my personal ambitions,” Karp wrote at the time, “and at no cost to my hopefulness for Tumblr’s future or the impact I know it can have.”