So yesterday, Virizon sold Tumblr for 3 million dollars. Seems like a lot until you realize that they’d bought it for 1.1 billion, which makes this a 99.7% loss. So what went wrong? Was Tumblr just a terrible site that was just draining money away? Was there no way to make money with it?
Well the problem lies entirely with the business in charge. Tumblr has always been a vibrant, artistic place where thousands of artists came to share their works. For a long time, it was THE best way to host a webcomic. It’s where pretty much every meme you see on the internet these days originated. The problem is that big companies think that every website on the internet should be making billions of dollars, constantly, or else they’re a failure for some reason.
The website WAS making money. And it was doing pretty well too. The problem was that when a corporation bought it, they made… changes. The kinds of changes that alienated the userbase. Every new update lead to hundreds of thousands of users experiencing glitches, and the majority of users use a third party add-on just to make the site actually function. Every new addition to the site meant some new problem, and some old feature being completely removed for no reason. And then last year, despite the fact that Tumblr was still making great money, Apple told them that they needed to crack down on a certain issue, or else the app would no longer be supported on the Apple Store. Thinking only of the potential millions that they could be making through having the partnership with Apple, they cut all that content, and killed 90% of the userbase’s reason for even using the platform anymore.
If they’d thought not of the potential money, and instead saw that the platform was already making money, and made changes to improve the platform, and make people feel more able to do what they wanted, Tumblr could have been great. Not the next Youtube, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Reddit, but it would be Tumblr, and it would have been great. Instead what we were left with was a shell of a platform, maintained by programmers who hardly have a grasp on web design, and run by a corporation that doesn’t understand that every new thing it tries to do to make more money is just going to drive them further and further down the drain. And that’s how you wind up with the 1 Billion 79 Million dollar loss.
It’s basically the same thing that happened with Vine a few years back. Hopefully the new owners will actually know what they’re doing, and not completely screw things up again. I still see a lot of really creative people on the platform, and I’d be stoked if they actually started cultivating the platform to be better than it is, rather than just letting it stagnate and get worse.