Yahoo is planning an internal reshuffle that could effectively end the independence of its most popular acquisition, the visual blogging platform Tumblr.
The Information reports that CEO Marissa Mayer spoke about the major changes inside the company at an offsite meeting with executives. She also reportedly asked Tumblr CEO David Karp which Yahoo executive he’d like to report to from now on.
Yahoo spent $1.1 billion to acquire Tumblr in May 2013, and it looks like the company is finally planning to seek a return on that investment. Tumblr’s highly visual format makes it possible to serve native ads—that is, ads that are barely distinguishable from the content around them, and thus less intrusive to users.
Once ad-free, Tumblr immediately began serving ads after the Yahoo acquisition. These days, your typical Tumblr user can expect to see a sponsored post every ten posts or so while scrolling through their dashboard.
Beyond that, however, Tumblr users haven’t seen much Yahoo interference. Tumblr has operated mostly independently since the acquisition.
Unfortunately, and almost certainly by coincidence, Tumblr rolled out a new dashboard redesign on Wednesday, the same day the news broke about Yahoo. Tumblr users immediately started to blame the site’s overlords for the unwelcome change.
“…yet another useless addition/change implemented by yahoo, no benefit to the flow of things whatsoever,” one blogger wrote.
With 230 million blogs and 108 billion posts, Tumblr is no small social network. The blogging platform drew a huge, youthful audience with its posting ease, hands-off approach, and decidedly laissez faire attitude toward copious amounts of porn.
However, Yahoo has to realize that in order to market to all these eyeballs, it needs to maintain the blogging platform the way users like it. Karp has deferred to his users for years, even rolling back a redesign after users loudly complained about it. What remains to be seen is whether he can continue to do that while reporting directly to Yahoo.
Photo by Josh James