Paul Higgins wonders if we should oppose the Tumblr acquisition by Yahoo:
Paul Higgins, The Community, Tumblr and Yahoo - Do we Protest?
There are a couple of services that are really important to my life and my business. One of them is Tumblr and the other is Evernote. In promoting Evernote for example I often tell people that if Microsoft buys it I will retire. That is because it has become so important to my work flow and because of my view that large corporations hardly ever get these sort of services right.
Tumblr is equally important to me in a different way and I am part of the community and honoured to be one of the Tech editors, and have almost 200,000 followers.
There are rumours going around that Yahoo is in negotiations to buy Tumblr which worries me a hell of a lot. Let me be clear that I have no problems with the founders and investors making money off the contributions of the community but I worry what would happen to Tumblr in the hands of a large entity.
In a world where business models like these require both the founders and investors to contribute and create but the community to contribute and create as well, valuations and business strategies have a different flavour. No community and there is no business valuation. If you have similar concerns then please reblog or like this post. I intend such support to be a signal to both Tumblr and Yahoo (if the rumours are true) that the community is concerned and should be involved in the decision making process. Maybe that is thinking with delusions of grandeur or maybe it isn’t - over to you the community to decide.
I like Paul, and I can understand his concerns, but I don’t think we should protest this acquisition, but instead welcome it.
Tumblr is confronted with the growing attention of its most direct competitors — Facebook and Twitter — both of which have large and well-established management teams. Also, it’s not so obvious competitors — Google and Microsoft — are waiting in the wings to buy or copy Tumblr. In a way reminiscent of Zuckerberg, David Karp is a young man under intense pressure to grow the company that he started in high school into a company that will pay back today’s investors 10X or more on an $800M valuation. Oh, and keep a growing, fickle, and international community of users coming back for more. His genius has certainly been focused toward building the Tumblr architecture and staying close to his vision. But he doesn’t necessarily have the skill set, the team, or the inclination to do all the things needed for the next 10X growth. He may turn out to be Steve Jobs, but that remains to be seen.
My worry is that he could wind up bringing in someone promising as COO, to help push forward, Karp may wind up being Mitch Kapor at Lotus, who hired Jim Manzi, and wound up losing the battle for the office suite to a late-to-the-game Microsoft. Or creating something like the Sculley mess at Apple.
Despite my concerns about Marissa Mayer’s ‘no remote work’ edict — which can be read most generously as an effort to reanimate a dispirited organizational culture, and less generously as an effort to indoctrinate the Yahoos with a top-down, Googlish entrepreneurial fervor — she has been making good acquisitions in the past months, and I believe that she has the chops to help Tumblr crack the code of advertising.
Mayer’s tenure at Google would translate into the skills needed to support Tumblr in growth on the operational side — keeping the service up and humming — and working to make revenue flow. Also, by selling at the price that Yahoo is willing to pay, today, to suit Yahoo’s needs, Karp, his investors, and his team will be able to decrease or obviate the possibility of bad technical or strategic decisions later, forced by the need to grow revenue or execute a dubious liquidity path. That turn of events is the one I worry about most, not becoming another Flickr in Yahoo’s bullpen.
So, for whatever negligible influence I might have on events, I cast my hypomythical ballot in favor of this deal, because chance are it could turn out great, and a purchase by Microsoft, or the possibility of a Lotus turn of events two years from now, for example, worries me much more.