Why Yahoo Bought Tumblr?

“F*ck yeah”

Ended David Karp (founder of Tumblr) his announcement about upcoming Yahoo-acquisition. He is not the only one amped up about the deal. Internet has been buzzing about the Yahoo´s recent acquisition of Tumblr. On theory marriage of Tumblr & Yahoo looks rational. Will it be that on practice?

What will Yahoo get from Tumblr?

1. Reach (especially to the young target audience)
Currently Yahoo has over 700 million unique visitors/month and Tumblr with its 300 million unique visitors and over 100 million blogs might help it bypass the 1 billion-visitor threshold. Yahoo is buying growth.
Tumblr user base is also the youngest among the different social media channels. It is stronger than any other social network within 13-18 and 19-25 demographic. As the buying power of teens and tweens increases even more, this target audience becomes more and more lucrative for marketers. It is therefore important to reach them young and maintain that relationship.
2. Gateway to Social Media & Mobile
Like many of its peers, Yahoo has been struggling with social media & mobile. It actually has a more impressive track record with screwing up potential social media opportunities (Flickr-which has been rewamped today as well, Geocities, Del.icio.us) than utilizing them. By buying Tumblr, Yahoo will get healthy social media which has been designed to be mobile-first from the beginning.
3. Street Credibility
Yahoo has not been a flavor of the month in recent years. Tumblr acquisition is exactly the kind of bold move that shareholders love. It is also the most prolific action Marissa Mayer has yet announced after taking the helm of the struggling company last year. Will it be the right move? That remains to be seen.

What will Tumblr get out of the deal?

Coherence & Monetization
Being the most user-friendly blog platform has its benefits, but also certain challenges. Tumblr is also the world´s most NSFW blog platform filled with porn, politically incorrect gifs and one-off-jokes (not even saving the founder David Karp). How Tumblr will maintain its characteristic quirkiness, but become “brand safe”? Currently adult sites are the leading category of referrals for Tumblr. Yahoo, as a household name, will give more legitimacy for Tumblr and probably help to clean up its act.
Tumblr has also been struggling with monetization and its business model throughout its whole existence. Whatever you say about Yahoo, you cannot dispute their skills and strengths on traditional ad sales. With Yahoo sales teams with interactive advertising (Tumblr) on their toolkit, it will be quite interesting selling point. The challenge is to find ad solutions which are seamless and enhance user experience.

What next?

Based on the statement from Marissa Mayer, it is quite improbable to see radical changes with Tumblr in the immediate future. The model for the Yahoo/Tumblr-coexistence will probably follow Instagram/Facebook –route where Instagram has remained relatively independent from Facebook. Many are likely to draw parallels between this acquisition and the quite ill-fated Geocities-acquisition from 14 years ago, but I am not that pessimistic. Tumblr definitely fills certain problematic gaps within Yahoo´s current strategy.

The crucial questions are whether the synergies that look obvious on paper come to fruition in action and was the price right?

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