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Who Should Buy Tumblr?

With Verizon looking to unload the beloved microblogging platform, here are some potential buyers for the last vestige of the social web’s good days

Ringer illustration

The slow, painful demise of Tumblr continues. The microblogging platform has been in a tailspin since Yahoo acquired it in 2013, and now it’s for sale: Verizon, which absorbed Tumblr in 2017, wants to unload the company. Tumblr is arguably the last vestige of the social web’s good days: a harbor for digital creatives and a safe space for “weird internet.” Its users are devoted to the platform and don’t indulge in the kind of self-hate Facebook and Twitter users often do. While Tumblr’s future is uncertain, in the right hands, the platform could be a valuable asset: It currently hosts 465.4 million blogs and publishes 21.6 million posts a day. In all likelihood, some large media conglomerate will add Tumblr to its corporate portfolio, but who will buy Tumblr isn’t the same as who should. This is a company that’s continually been placed in the wrong hands. So who should buy—really, save—Tumblr?

Pornhub

In December 2018, Tumblr took the controversial step of banning porn. The network had long been a haven for NSFW of all varieties, from artistic to hardcore. The new guidelines were intended to prevent revenge porn, but the sweeping decision eradicated Tumblr’s adult content communities, a thriving genre. Now that Tumblr’s for sale, the biggest name in online pornography should scoop it up. The acquisition would primarily be a marketing stunt, a move Pornhub is very familiar with: Restore the porn, yes, but then let the rest of Tumblr continue to exist. It doesn’t hurt that Pornhub is already “extremely interested.”

David Karp

Karp launched Tumblr in 2007, and the network immediately became the indie darling of the then-blossoming social media market; it was less shallow than Myspace and more compelling than Facebook. Compared with other early social media scions like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, Karp was a geek-chic hipster. Karp sold Tumblr to Yahoo in 2013 for $1.1 billion and then left the company following Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo in 2017. (He also has posed for photos on a motorcycle multiple times.) Karp’s been relatively quiet since leaving Tumblr; he’s blogged only once since. In 2018, he joined a left-leaning political advocacy group, but there’s no other news about his career moves. Perhaps it’s time for Karp to come out of what looks like an early retirement and buy back his baby (possibly for a fraction of its worth) and restore it to greatness.

Giphy

In addition to porn, one of Tumblr’s most popular types of content is GIFs. There are an endless number of GIF blogs: Some are artsy and aesthetically driven, some focus entirely on absurdity, and others revolve around nothing more than relatable reactions. Tumblr certainly didn’t invent GIFs, but it did give them new life as a beloved and common communication tool of the internet. Who better than Giphy to take Tumblr under its wing? The web’s preeminent GIF database could build its catalog while helping keep the blogging platform alive.

Tumblr Users

Something that’s set Tumblr apart from the rest of the social web is its community. Unlike other platforms, Tumblr has managed to remain a relatively positive hub filled with people who actively create content instead of just passively consuming, and who care about the platform they frequent instead of begrudgingly using it as a utility. People who are on Tumblr want to be on Tumblr. So then: Why don’t the users themselves buy it? Some are suggesting that Tumblr users should collectively rise up and purchase the company and run it as a co-op.

Chris Evans

Evans (of the Chris Wars) recently announced that he plans to launch a political website to encourage “civic engagement.” Instead of that website, Evans should buy Tumblr. He certainly has the money (or can at least invest a significant amount and easily raise the rest). The platform is already devoted to him as well; Captain America– and Chris Evansdevoted Tumblrs are plentiful. And fine, if he truly wants to launch a political website, why start from scratch and require users to create yet another account when Tumblr, and its hundreds of millions of users, are for sale?