Verizon has agreed to sell its blogging website Tumblr to the owner of popular online-publishing tool WordPress, unloading for a nominal amount a site that once fetched a purchase price of more than $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Verizon, which first acquired Tumblr in 2017 after it purchased Yahoo, started to explore a sale earlier this year. Automattic reportedly bought Tumblr for less than $20 million, according to Axios, a stunning drop in value from the $1.1 billion Yahoo paid for it in 2013.
Tumblr was once a hugely influential force in the blogging and social media sphere, but it become less so under Yahoo and then Verizon’s ownership. Verizon decided to ban adult content on the platform back in December. Tumblr acted as a safe haven for many LGBTQ members who used the platform to explore and express their sexuality and to find an online community that shared those interests. The decision to ban all types of adult content led many to boycott the site, and the ban alienated a significant portion of Tumblr’s user base. As part of the deal, the company will take on 200 Tumblr staffers.
“Tumblr is one of the Web’s most iconic brands,” Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said of the news. “It is an essential venue to share new ideas, cultures and experiences, helping millions create and build communities around their shared interests. We are excited to add it to our lineup, which already includes WordPress, WooCommerce, Jetpack, Simplenote, Longreads, and more.”
“We couldn’t be more excited to be joining a team that has a similar mission. Many of you know WordPress.com, Automattic’s flagship product. WordPress.com and Tumblr were both early pioneers among blogging platforms,” Tumblr fittingly wrote in a blog post. “Automattic shares our vision to build passionate communities around shared interests and to democratize publishing so that anyone with a story can tell it, especially when they come from under-heard voices and marginalized communities.”
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process,” Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan said in a statement. “Tumblr is a marquee brand that has started movements, allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms. We are proud of what the team has accomplished and are happy to have found the perfect partner in Automattic, whose expertise and track record will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”