So I mentioned this a couple of days ago, the purchase of Tumblr by Automattic, and now The Verge has a rather good interview with the CEO of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, that addresses some of the questions I was wondering about.
He does seem genuinely excited about the whole thing. Normally I would chalk this up to making investors feel good about the decision, and even private corporations have investors, but the extremely fickle stock exchange isn’t an issue, so maybe it’s a little less over-sold than normal.
He’s especially cagey about some topics, like the actual cost of this transaction. Saying that it’s basically up to Verizon when and how they announce that.
There’s a lot of talk about changing and working with ad selection, placement, and possibly frequency. He says that Tumblr’s revenue is much lower than one might expect for something of its size, and they want to make sure it becomes profitable and sustainable.
Advertising is definitely something we’re going to explore. We do definitely want to grow Tumblr’s revenue. Right now, they’re burning a lot of money. But long-term, I would say I’m also super interested in experimenting with upgrades. WordPress.com has always been an upgrade-centric model. It’s freemium: use it for free, and then you can buy plans anywhere from $40 to $450 per year to get added functionality.
Of course, I’m not really a user of Tumlr, so I don’t know how those users would feel about something like the “upgrade model.” I do believe it works very well for WordPress.com because it creates a very low barrier of entry. I have always used the free plan, myself, though I’ve considered upgrades. I just can’t justify the cost of those upgrade for something that’s doing pretty much what I want it to do, especially since it’s more of a hobby side-activity and not a business.
I didn’t get the impression that they had plans to do much regarding the adult content policy Verizon put in place, but they seem to be laying that at the feet of Google and Apple regarding how they manage their respective app stores.
He briefly mentioned bringing RSS feeds back to Tumblr as well, as a way to integrate content from other platforms like, I dunno, WordPress?
I would say, for all of those things, expect things to be kind of the same until we do the close. Think of that being October.
Of course, the business world is pretty slow about things like this. All the lawyers, all the government departments, they all have to make sure all the Is and dotted and the Ts crossed. Paperwork has been signed but must be approved and all that.
I probably won’t hear about it again until they actually do something remarkable enough to get people’s attention.
Y’all take care, read the interview if you’re interested. There’s a lot there.
In case you haven’t heard, we’re in the middle of an event called Blaugust. The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.