Verizon Sells Tumblr To Automattic

After a months-long search, Verizon has finally found a buyer for its teetering Tumblr unit.

Tumblr’s new owner is Wordpress parent Automattic, which has a history of supporting second- and third-tier Web properties.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources told Axios that Verizon accepted around $3 million for the struggling social network -- staggeringly less than the $1.1 billion that Yahoo paid for Tumblr in 2013.

Verizon came into possession of Tumblr in 2017 as part of its $4.5-billion acquisition of  Yahoo. The wireless carrier began seeking a buyer for Tumblr earlier this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Among other issues, Tumblr has been widely criticized for failing to properly police its platform.

In fact, Tumblr had become so ridden with pornographic images that Pornhub expressed interest in acquiring the platform earlier this year. Tumblr officially banned pornographic content from its platform last year.

In a statement, Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan said he still views Tumblr to be “a marquee brand.”

Although many marketers would likely challenge that characterization, the platform still boasts approximately 450 million blogs.

In a blog post, WordPress co-founder-CEO Matt Mullenweg said he's seen synergies between WordPress and Tumblr for years.

Regarding what he described as the “democratization of publishing,” he wrote: “Tumblr and WordPress have always been very philosophically aligned.”

According to Mullenweg, his team and their counterparts at Tumblr are equally determined to make the merger as smooth as possible.

“While we have many details to iron out, one thing we’re absolutely committed to is to preserve the passion and sense of community that so many people around the world … have come to associate with Tumblr,” Mullenweg said.
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