Cash! The WSJ says "the Yahoo board has approved a deal" to make this happen, and it's hard to imagine Tumblr turning this down. One of the most unpopular companies in the world will soon own one of the most popular in history, and we'll all find out if you really can buy cool.
A billion dollars for a company with a massive, young, ad-averse, GIF-swapping user base and an open disdain for revenue — Yahoo's shareholders are probably a little puzzled, if they aren't prima facie dazzled by how often Tumblr is characterised as "cool" and "young" — that demographic elixer Yahoo will now try to vampire-suck out of Tumblr. Cool, cool, cool, young, young, so young.
Tumblr's investors won't be so dazzled, as they were hoping for a hell of a lot more than a billion dollars. Then again, these same investors poured millions into a company that, as mentioned, never made making money a priority — Tumblr should consider itself lucky to have this deus ex Marissa Mayer, the ultimate bail-out.
So, it's not ideal for either party, but that's Yahoo in 2013. It's a little sad and a little confusing, but the two deserve each other. This is the internet acquisition equivalent of two tired, slightly desperate lovers exchanging leers from opposite sides of the bar, shrugging, and going home together. This is a Sure, why not, deal.
Still, no clues for the following questions:
A) What is Yahoo going to do with Tumblr in a way that justifies that giant price tag?
B) Will Tumblr have to start making money now?
C) What will Yahoo do with all of the porn and cutting?
D) Is this the end of the road for unpopular boy king David Karp, who for the first time in his career will have to be accountable to grownups? If not now, then soon — he's been alienating his peers for years, gaining distrust instead of revenue, and earning a reputation as a startup headache. These things don't go down well with the WWW old guard.
We'll be at Yahoo's Manhattan announcement on Monday US time, but don't expect any big answers to the above — we don't suspect Yahoo even has them. The last we heard, Tumblr's employees will be called to hastily scheduled meetings Monday morning — rooms filled with dread and relief.