13, Aug, 2019
WordPress owner Automattic to acquire Tumblr for nominal amount
Verizon announced today that it has sold blogging platform Tumblr to Automattic, the company behind WordPress. The Wall Street Journal says the transaction is valued at a “nominal amount,” despite Tumblr having once been acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion.
As part of the deal, Automattic will gain 200 staffers from Tumblr. Verizon is said to have discussed a sale of Tumblr with a handful of different companies but ultimately landed on Automattic. “The sale price isn’t material to Verizon,” today’s report says citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Yahoo originally acquired Tumblr in 2013 for $1.1 billion in cash. From there, Yahoo was acquired by Verizon in 2017 and placed under its Oath subsidiary. The sale of Tumblr comes as Verizon plans to revamp its struggling media group, which houses properties including TechCrunch, Huffington Post, Engadget, and more.
For Q2 2018, Verizon Media Group (formerly Oath) generated $1.8 billion in revenue, down 2.9 percent year-over-year. At the time, Verizon detailed its plans to focus on “news, finance, sports, entertainment and mail products” within that division.
Tumblr made news last December when it announced plans to remove all adult content after being removed from the App Store. That ban is something Automattic plans to keep in place:
The Tumblr acquisition is the largest ever in terms of price and head count for Automattic, the company’s Chief Executive Matt Mullenweg said in an interview.
Mr. Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. “It’s just fun,” he said of Tumblr. “We’re not going to change any of that.”
As for what this means for WordPress, executives from both Tumblr and Automattic will “look for ways WordPress.com and Tumblr can share services and functionality.” We wouldn’t expect any immediate changes, though.