After several days of rumours, Yahoo has confirmed that it will purchase Tumblr for $1.1 billion (£724 million). But while the deal is a shot in the arm for the viability of building new blogging platforms in the age of social media, at least some Tumblr users are souring at the prospect of being drawn into the Yahoo ecosystem.
In a Sunday evening blog post, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg claimed that many Tumblr users are jumping ship to his blogging platform to avoid dealing with Yahoo.
"[Tumblr] imports have actually spiked on the rumors even though it's Sunday: normally we import 400-600 posts an hour from Tumblr, last hour it was over 72,000," Mullenweg wrote.
Of course a random sample of one hour in the wake of what was still at the time an unconfirmed report is hardly proof that Tumblr will shed a significant number of loyal users. However, it does offer a peek at the challenge Yahoo faces at it attempts to merge Tumblr's profile as a hub of the young and cool with Yahoo's image as a slow moving, old-school Web player possibly past its prime.
In his own blog post, Tumblr founder David Karp tried to assuage users' fears. "We're not turning purple. Our headquarters isn't moving. Our team isn't changing. Our roadmap isn't changing... We won't let you down," he said.
Aside from the questions surrounding the loyalty of Tumblr users following the deal, some tech industry insiders are already speculating that this re-validation of blogging platforms as a source of growth may have a direct impact on the value of WordPress. According to former MySpace executive Sean Percival, the millions Yahoo is paying for Tumblr has set the new industry benchmark.
"Tumblr is about to make WordPress worth at least $5 billion [£3.3 billion]," Percival wrote.
In fact, even Mullenweg himself appears to believe this deal represents a new yardstick for future acquisition prices. "While Yahoo's all-cash deal by some metrics, like revenue, is very generous, I think it's a tenth of the value that will be created in these platforms over the coming years," he said.
Whether WordPress does manage to snag a significant portion of Tumblr's skittish users, or eventually sell for even more than the Manhattan-based startup, for many the Yahoo deal is a sign that New York's tech start-up community is officially on the map.
"I think this exit allows the young New York startup community to look up to David Karp in a manner folks here look up to Kevin Systrom of Instagram," mused True Ventures venture capitalist Om Malik.