The Tumblr acquisition may give Yahoo the young, hip audience it’s always wanted — assuming it can keep them. Because Tumblr users aren’t happy, and they’re letting it all out.
“Yahoo is buying Tumblr guys THIS IS NOT OKAY THEY’LL RUIN OUR HOME,” blogged one user in a sentiment repeatedly echoed on the #yahoo, #tumblr, and #yumblr tags on Tumblr, all of which are currently experiencing an overload of activity.
Tumblr users’ greatest fear? Change, of any kind. Many have vowed to leave at the first sign of Yahoo involvement. One Tumblr user-generated photo shows a purple, spammy nightmare of what many bloggers fear Tumblr may soon become.
These concerns aren’t exactly unfounded, either: Yahoo has a track record of botching its acquisitions. It’s telling that Yahoo’s press release on the acquisition notes that it “promises not to screw it up.” (You read that correctly — that's in the press release.)
Tumblr CEO David Karp assured users in an announcement that “We’re not turning purple.” (Of course, Tumblr has been purple before — back in 2010, it went purple for Pride Day. When it reverted to traditional blue, well, users complained about that, too.)
There are some obvious conflicts a-brewin'. Yahoo is a self-described family friendly brand while Tumblr is infamous for its uncensored pornographic content. As a result, some users worry about a culture clash. "Yahoo buying Tumblr is like having a house party supervised by your Grandma," one user blogged.
Yahoo is already working to defuse such fears, though it's far from clear how successfully. In addition to the company's promise "not to screw it up," CEO Marissa Mayer made a point of offering this reassurance on a call with analysts and press shortly after the acquisition announcement: "We really want to let Tumblr be Tumblr and let Yahoo be Yahoo."
Some of Tumblr's competitors say they smell blood in the water. WordPress CEO Matt Mullenweg, for instance, wrote on his personal blog Sunday that “normally we import 400-600 posts an hour from Tumblr, last hour it was over 72,000.” (Full disclosure, I’m currently a trial employee at WordPress.com.)
Mayer has already begun addressing the culture clash on her brand new Tumblr, which spells “Mayr” without the “e” as a nod to Tumblr’s quirky spelling. Her latest post speaks Tumblr’s language — a spot-on GIF that depicts Mayer and Karp battling it out through netspeak. Mayer's rallying cry: WFH [Work From Home]. Karp's? NSFW [Not Safe For Work].
When Karp announced the acquisition, he signed it with a nod to one of Tumblr’s most viral (and NSFW) memes, “Fuck Yeah.” Even if Yahoo is planning to change an aspect of the site, Tumblr’s salty language and aversion to censorship don’t seem to be one of them.
Lead image via the tinsoftware Tumblr