Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Automattic Acquires Tumblr

Ursula Perano and Dan Primack, Axios:

Verizon is set to sell the social network Tumblr to Automattic Inc, the owner of online publishing tool WordPress. A source familiar with the deal puts the price-tag “well below” $20 million, while another source puts it below $10 million.

To clarify, Automattic is the owner of WordPress.com, the commercial entity that provides hosting and support of websites powered by WordPress the software; the latter is maintained by the WordPress Foundation, and Automattic’s CEO is Matt Mullenweg, who began developing WordPress alongside Mike Little. It’s quite confusing. I assume his favourite song is “Wilco” off the album Wilco by Wilco.

Primack on Twitter:

Again, just to be clear… emphasis on the “well below” $20 million…

Story updated: Price less than $3 million.

A fire sale for the property, but that excludes the salaries of the two hundred employees they’re also bringing with them. Kudos to Automattic for keeping the staff on board.

Matt Mullenweg formally announced the acquisition on his Tumblr account:

When the possibility to join forces became concrete, it felt like a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have two beloved platforms work alongside each other to build a better, more open, more inclusive – and, frankly, more fun web. I knew we had to do it.

[…]

In the underlying technology of our platforms, I think there are some good opportunities to standardize on the Open Source WordPress tech stack, but the front-end user experience on Tumblr will evolve on its own path. It has been so successful already, and we want to keep that going. The Tumblr team also has some exciting functionality they’re eager to unlock once we close the acquisition officially in a few weeks…

Automattic will obviously be a better steward of Tumblr than Yahoo or Verizon were, but I question whether the unique qualities of its communities can experience a resurgence. It has felt for years like it has been dying a protracted death, and its 99% discounted sale price speaks to that.