Personal blogging social network Tumblr—a waning haven for artists and fandoms—will exit the portfolio of current owners Verizon and be parted off to Automattic Inc., owners of Wordpress, another blogging platform with social elements, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Once hailed as the next social media unicorn, Tumblr sold to Yahoo for an astonishing $1.1 billion despite no clear avenue for the service’s profitability. Yahoo would then write down the social network, known for its young and engaged userbase, by over $200 million a year later.
In a statement made up of words that definitely mean something, Verizon characterized its sale of Tumblr as “the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process” and called Automattic “the perfect partner” which “will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”
As Yahoo and its assets have been chopped up and reformed by Verizon (neé Oath), there’s been speculation around the possible sale of Tumblr—informed by high-level exits within the company, and finally confirmed by Verizon itself this may when it announced the site was up for auction.
Beyond financial turmoil, Tumblr was pulled from the Apple App Store briefly last year as it worked to combat child pornography hosted on the platform, an ordeal that led to a new and wildly unpopular site policy banning adult content of all stripes. Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic Inc., told the Journal he intends to uphold the adult content ban and explore ways to integrate Tumblr and Wordpress. Neither of those statements is likely to be received well by veteran users of Tumblr.
Tumblr, its technologies, and its 200 or so employees are being sold to Automattic for an undisclosed amount. We’ve reached out to both parties for additional details and will update if they become available.