Yahoo Bets Big on GIFs, Porn, and Fickle Teens…

I’m not sure why I dislike Tumblr so much (aka, LiveJournal for Dummies), but I really, really do. That they’ve officially been “valued” at $1.1 BILLION dollars thanks to Yahoo’s desperate flailing for relevance doesn’t change that opinion.

“Tumblr is redefining creative expression online,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said in the announcement. “On many levels, Tumblr and Yahoo couldn’t be more different, but, at the same time, they couldn’t be more complimentary [sic]. Yahoo is the internet’s original media network. Tumblr is the internet’s fastest-growing media frenzy.”

via Yahoo acquires Tumblr in $1.1 billion cash deal, ‘promises not to screw it up’ | The Verge

When Google acquired Blogger in 2003, it was a smart move that tied directly to their core ad business, with the visionary bonus of foreseeing the value of user-generated content when it was still scoffed at.

Yahoo + Tumblr, though…?

Tumblr actually became huge because it is the anti-blog. What is the No. 1 reason that people quit blogging? Because they can’t find and develop an audience. This has been true of every blogging platform ever made. Conversely, blogs that do find an audience tend to keep adding that type of content. This simple philosophy boils down to the equation: Mo’ pageviews = mo’ pages.

But Tumblr does not conform to this calculus, and the reason is that a large percentage of Tumblr users actually don’t WANT an audience. They do not want to be found, except by a few close friends who they explicitly share one of their tumblogs with. Therefore Tumblr’s notoriously weak search functionality is A-OK with most of its user base…

Most Tumblr content falls into three categories:

  1. Photos of young people’s daily lives: studying, buying things, hanging out with friends. Many of these photos are from Instagram or the Tumblr mobile app, which is now quite good.
  2. Entertaining memes and gifs they find on Tumblr and re-share with their friends. A teenage friend of mine told me recently that he tries to post something to his Tumblog on an hourly basis — which requires endless scouring of other Tumblogs for re-bloggable content. Fortunately, the Tumblr Dashboard is designed specifically with this goal in mind: consume lots of things and “reblog” easily. This is where the topic-based photobloggers add value to the ecosystem; it’s why we see Tumblr encouraging the seeding of “rebloggable” content — such as live-Tumbling The Grammys.
  3. Porn and near-porn collections for personal use, usually under a different pseudonym.  (Protip: searches on many keywords at 11 p.m. yield VERY different results than the same searches at 11 a.m. And there’s a NSFW setting if you truly don’t want to see any of it.)

via Tumblr Is Not What You Think | TechCrunch

Yahoo acquiring Tumblr 10 years later (after badly fumbling GeoCities, del.icio.us, and Flickr, among others) is like the drunk uncle showing up late to a baby shower with a stripper and a trained monkey. Even the “announcement” via GIF feels forced and desperate for attention.

Yahoo Tumblr GIF

I know plenty of people who use and love Tumblr (I even occasionally use it, but do not love it), and I don’t see this acquisition really affecting anyone’s opinion either way, in the short term, at least.

But, it’s highly unlikely that Yahoo will ever see an acceptable ROI on this acquisition, which will almost surely lead to the kind of tampering that avid users will notice and ultimately not like, and as every social media platform that has come and gone has learned, a free service is only as valuable as its users deem it to be, and the fabled “wisdom” of the crowds is only exceeded by its fickleness.

On the other hand, if it truly is just a “credibility” play as some have argued [NOTE: porn = credible nowadays? Um…ok.], then the tech world has way too much time and money on its hands and I’m in the wrong damn business!

(Yes, I know. This is just ANOTHER data point! Sigh…)

UPDATE: More on Yahoo’s porn problem with their new acquisition:

11.4% of Tumblr’s 200,000 most visited domains are adult; 16.6 percent of Tumblr traffic happens on adult blogs; and 22.37% of referral traffic from external sites comes from adult websites, according to a study by the SimilarGroup…

The greater rights issue at play here isn’t limited to porn, of course: Virtually all sites that are driven by user uploaded content have had to contend with users uploading content they don’t have the rights to, to which anyone caught up in YouTube’s frequent purges of copyright-violating content can attest. But because adult content exists in a rarified legal state, one very different from any other form of content, the copyright issue adds an additional wrinkle that creates a potentially ugly legal situation that Yahoo will likely want to avoid.

The plot thickens…

via How Adult Tumblrs Could Land Yahoo in a Legal Pinch | Fast Company

 

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Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

As in guillotine. Old/new media pragmatist. Sometimes loud, one-time poet, still opinionated. Reading, writing, running, gaming, soccer, beer.

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