Verizon sells Tumblr to WordPress owner, Automattic


A mere two years after acquiring it, Verizon is selling Tumblr. Full details of the deal have not yet been revealed, but the micro-blogging service is being bought by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.

Tumblr came into the spotlight last year when it introduced a ban on all adult content, and anyone hoping for this to change is going to be disappointed. Automattic says the ban will remain in place.

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It is no secret that Verizon has been considering offloading Tumblr, and earlier this year PornHub expressed interest in buying it -- somewhat ironically, considering the current porn ban. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg told the Wall Street Journal that Tumblr is "just fun", meaning that that adult content ban is going nowhere.

As part of the deal, Automattic will take on 200 Tumblr staff.

Writing on his on Tumblr, Mullenweg said:

Our teams are hard at work right now to make this transition smooth for everyone at Tumblr, and while we have many details to iron out, one thing we're absolutely committed to is to preserve the passion and sense of community that so many people around the world -- and all over the web -- have come to associate with Tumblr.

In the underlying technology of our platforms, I think there are some good opportunities to standardize on the Open Source WordPress tech stack, but the front-end user experience on Tumblr will evolve on its own path. It has been so successful already, and we want to keep that going. The Tumblr team also has some exciting functionality they're eager to unlock once we close the acquisition officially in a few weeks...

In an official announcement on the Verizon website, Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan writes:

Today's announcement is the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process. Tumblr is a marquee brand that has started movements, allowed for true identities to blossom and become home to many creative communities and fandoms. We are proud of what the team has accomplished and are happy to have found the perfect partner in Automattic, whose expertise and track record will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.

The amount of money involved with the sale is not known for sure, but reports suggest that Tumblr is being sold at something of a loss. Having previously changed hands for $1.1 billion by Yahoo before being swallowed by Verizon, sources suggest that this time around the sale price is "well below" $20 million, and perhaps even under $10 million.

Image credit: BigTunaOnline / Shutterstock

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