Of course outrage at the acquisition is misplaced. Of course it misses the point. Even many of the teens whom the investing classes now believe power Tumblr are getting used to the playbook of internet monetization. Most of us knew as soon as we signed up (7 May 2007, in my case) that This Day would come. The pronouncements from David Karp and other Tumblr bigwigs disdaining advertising, pooh-poohing the idea that they were just biding their time until the call came from the Valley, were always so much nonsense.
Personally, I’d been parting ways with Tumblr for some time anyway. Its mobile platforms seem rooted in 2007-8, and have never matched the desktop browser for ease of putting material up. I really have difficulty with a blogging platform that shoves a giant ad for The Hangover III in my face every time I fire it up.
While it sticks in my throat to see an already wealthy young man get a whole new fortune on the back of the content that you and I have been dutifully uploading these past six or seven years, at least now Tumblr can stop being a rich kid’s pet project. As I said years ago:
Either they are owners/operators of a proper blogging platform with legal, transparent and enforceable terms of service; or they are kids who are running a cool club: they come in, they hang out with the punters, and they bar people based upon whether they like the cut of a person’s jib.
And maybe, following the Facebook IPO, the Instagram deal, and now this, we can think more clearly and creatively about the economics of the social web. Is the ability to post photos, quotes, music and video, original articles, important to you? How and why is it important? Is the entertainment that it provides valuable to you? Is it so valuable that you are happy for a succession of billionaires to be born on the back of it?
Or would you, as others have suggested, prefer to pay a few bucks a month to retain ownership of your content? Or - here’s a thing - how about a model where a David Karp rewards users with a share of the business, so that you get a sliver of that $1.1 billion?