Jessica Goodfellow
Aug 14, 2019

Verizon to sell Tumblr to Wordpress parent

Verizon is unloading the microblogging site for a "nominal" sum, six years after Yahoo paid more than US$1 billion for it.

Verizon to sell Tumblr to Wordpress parent

US-based telco Verizon is to sell social-media platform Tumblr to Automattic Inc, the owner of online publishing tool Wordpress.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the price tag is apparently “nominal” compared to the around US$1.1 billion Yahoo paid for the platform six years ago, according to The Wall Street Journal. Axios has reported a source putting the deal "well below" $20 million.

Verizon became the owner of Tumblr when it acquired Yahoo in 2017. The telco began seeking a buyer for the photo-sharing site earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported, after it failed to push a profit for the business.

Automattic will take on about 200 staffers as part of the acquisition, the companies said. The Tumblr acquisition is the largest ever in terms of price and head count for Automattic, according to the company’s chief executive Matt Mullenweg.

The San Francisco-based company is most notable for its open-source blogging software Wordpress. It owns a slew of online publishing tools including longform aggregation site Longreads, comment-filtering service Akismet, avatar-managing service Gravatar, online proofreading tool After the Deadline and many more.

Founded in 2007, Tumblr hosts more than 450 million blogs and has 380 million monthly visitors as of August 2019. It was once considered a major player in the social-media space, but has faced stiff competition from Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and other services. 

Yahoo wrote down the site's valuation by $230 million in 2016 after it failed to generate meaninful revenue.

The site has also faced backlash over recent years for not properly monitoring pornographic content, leading Verizon to ban adult content last year.

In May, Pornhub’s vice president Corey Price revealed that the company was “extremely interested” in purchasing the blog platform, calling it “a safe haven for those who wanted to explore and express their sexuality, adult entertainment aficionados included”.

“We’ve long been dismayed that such measures were taken to eradicate erotic communities on the platform, leaving many individuals without an asylum through which they could comfortably peruse adult content,” he told Buzzfeed News.

Automattic’s Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the ban on adult content.

In other news about digital assets departing Verizon, ‘digital prophet’ David Shing, known as Shingy, revealed last week he is leaving the business after more than a decade. The Australian-born executive and tireless conference speaker joined AOL in 2007 as a marketing director and has held various roles within the company through its transformations into Oath and Verizon Media.

Related Articles

Just Published

2 hours ago

Joanna Flint on leaving big tech and the evolving ...

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Having left Google after 12 years, Mandarin Oriental's new chief commercial officer tells Campaign why the new spot is perfect for her, why the CMO role has outgrown itself, and why many executives in big tech are defecting to smaller businesses.

4 hours ago

P&G reports 4% sales growth, but lowest organic ...

The maker of Tide and Pampers sees pandemic habits persisting, as it reports strong growth from its fabric and home care unit. But increased costs slowed organic earnings.

5 hours ago

Top tips for social-media marketing

Key principles for effective use of social media, plus specific advice for LinkedIn, YouTube and WeChat, from Archetype's senior digital consultant.

6 hours ago

Taboola supports women-owned APAC businesses

The company's RecommendHer program gave US$500,000 in free advertising to 100 women-owned business around the world.