Automattic, the creator of WordPress, has acquired Tumblr for “less than $3 million” from its previous owner, Yahoo, owned by Verizon.
The move is an inauspicious fall from grace for the site, which was previously sold to the search giant for $1.1 billion. The sale price is a mere 0.27% of its original purchase price.
WordPress will “take on about 200 staffers” from Verizon as part of the deal.
Tumblr was founded by David Karp in 2007 as one of the first microblogging services, but has struggled in the face of newer competition from social networks and instant messaging platforms.
“I’m delighted to share that Automattic is acquiring Tumblr,” the Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg wrotein a blog post.
“Our teams are hard at work right now to make this transition smooth for everyone at Tumblr, and 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 – and all over the web – have come to associate with Tumblr,” he added.
In a statement, Verizon described Automattic as “the perfect partner” and said that the new deal was “the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process”.
Automattic’s lineup already includes WordPress.com, Jetpack, Simplenote, WooCommerce, Longreads, and more.
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but according to the Wall Street Journal, Automattic will “take on about 200 staffers” from Verizon at the same time.
Tumblr was founded by David Karp in 2007 as one of the first microblogging services. In 2013, the service was acquired by Yahoo for an astonishing $1.1 billion, despite a lack of profitability and no visible path to profitability.
Tumblr had just $16.6 million in cash when it was purchased by Yahoo. The service came under Verizon’s Oath subsidiary when it bought Yahoo in 2017, a deal finally completed in June 2017.
In December last year, the service took a hit when Verizon announced its decision to ban all adult content on Tumblr, which had comprised the greater part of the platform. The move followed a temporary ban on Tumblr from Apple’s App Store, which discovered content depicting child sexual abuse on the network.
A large number of Tumblr users criticised Verizon for banning all types of adult content on Tumblr, forcing them off of the site.
Tumblr’s CEO Jeff D’Onofrio, said that in the longer term, the decision will help turn Tumblr into a platform where more people would “feel comfortable expressing themselves”.
Automattic, which allows adult content on the WordPress.com platform, said it has no plans to undo the ban on adult content on Tumblr, in general.
Following the deal, Tumblr has become the second major Yahoo property spun-out of Verizon. In April 2018, Verizon sold photo-sharing service Flickr to SmugMug.