New Direction For Tumblr Under Automattic Ownership


This week, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg provided details about the future of Tumblr following the company’s decision to reorganize and shift its workforce to other projects within Automattic. The social blogging site has been facing financial challenges, with a loss of $30 million annually. As a result, 139 Tumblr employees will be reassigned to other areas within Automattic.

Key Takeaway

Tumblr will undergo significant changes as it aims to become a profitable platform while maintaining its core features.

Staff Changes and Reassignments

The reorganization within Tumblr will take place on December 31, 2023. The impacted team, known as “Bumblr,” will have the opportunity to choose from various projects within Automattic, including, WooCommerce, Jetpack, and others. Mullenweg emphasized that these changes were not unexpected, as the Tumblr team had been aware for over a year that a lack of revenue growth would result in the need for workforce reallocation.

Monetization Efforts and Future Plans

Tumblr currently offers a subscription model for users to support the platform. Only 0.2% of its 11.5 million monthly active users are subscribers, but Mullenweg believes that if 10-20% of users subscribed, Tumblr would be financially stable for the foreseeable future. The company is also considering alternative monetization strategies, such as gifting subscriptions and garnering support from advertisers.

Mullenweg hinted at potential changes to TumblrMart, stating that while virtual goods and subscriptions will continue, physical products may be scaled back due to profitability concerns and the preferences of the individual in charge. Additionally, the CEO expressed plans to explore new advertising opportunities to enhance the quality and performance of ads on the platform.

Tumblr’s Product Evolution

Mullenweg acknowledged that Tumblr had invested significant effort in projects that did not yield desired outcomes. Looking ahead to 2024, he emphasized the company’s focus on refining and improving the aspects of Tumblr that users love, while discontinuing features that have not been successful. Moreover, he emphasized Tumblr’s intention to remain at the forefront of technological advancements and serve as an inspiration for other social networks.

Attention to Trust & Safety

Mullenweg acknowledged concerns about trolling and problematic user behavior on the platform. Despite the reorganization, Tumblr intends to increase its investment in Trust & Safety, including dealing with bots, trolling, attacks, and hate speech. Strict measures will be implemented to ban accounts engaging in such behavior and prevent them from creating new accounts.

Future Integration with ActivityPub

Tumblr had previously announced plans to integrate with ActivityPub, the decentralized social networking protocol behind Mastodon and other similar apps. Although the project is currently on hold and being evaluated, Mullenweg assured users that any future development for Tumblr will involve supporting open standards, APIs, and open-source initiatives.

Continued Ban on Explicit Content

Despite previous controversies surrounding its decision to ban explicit content, Mullenweg clarified that art is permitted on the platform, but explicit or “hardcore” content will continue to be prohibited.

In conclusion, Automattic’s acquisition of Tumblr presents an opportunity for the platform to evolve and address its financial challenges. As Automattic absorbs Tumblr’s staff, the company aims to refocus its resources and ensure a prosperous future for the beloved social blogging site.

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