Yahoo! acquires Tumblr photo blog platform for $1.1 billion; good or bad news for photographers?


posted Monday, May 20, 2013 at 12:28 PM EDT


Yahoo! has announced its plans to acquire popular photo blogging platform Tumblr for $1.1 billion in a move that has many photographers who use the service worried. In an announcement on her own Tumblr page, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer said "we promise not to screw it up," and in a nod to Tumblr's particular style, accompanied the post with an animated GIF.

Yahoo! seems to be acknowledging that Tumblr is a very different property with a different user-base than Yahoo! on its own has. In that Tumblr post, Mayer said:

"Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently.  David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster."

The purchase is widely been seen as an attempt by Yahoo! to tap into a younger market, thanks to the 300 million monthly viewers the web service receives. However, there are risks involved in both sides of this deal. Yahoo! has something of a history with acquiring other companies, and then doing poorly by them. Flickr is a prime example, one known to most photographers, and there are still some who were upset by the move to Yahoo! IDs on that service. Mayer has been attempting to repair the Flickr brand of late, but it still hangs as a cloud over this purchase. Tumblr, meanwhile, has not been doing very well at bringing money on board, and contains large amounts of adult content which Yahoo! may struggle to deal with.

For photo lovers, there's a whole different set of potential problems. Tumblr has rapidly become an incredibly popular venue for photographers to share their works, and young artists like Kyle Thompson have cut their teeth on the site. On one hand, the Yahoo! acquisition might mean better sharing between Flickr and Tumblr. On the other, Tumblr has a reputation for stripping the source from images, and removing the original credit to the artist. Conversely, Tumblr users have promised to quit in droves if Yahoo! institutes Yahoo! ID login like it did with Flickr. Thousands of users have already jumped ship to Wordpress.

We hope this deal goes more like the Facebook/Instagram purchase, which saw Instagram remain a standalone app with its own users and functionality, rather than a disaster that sees photographers leaving Tumblr in droves.


The announcement, in animated GIF form.