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Blogging Giant WordPress Adds Tumblr to Its Portfolio

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After a year of diminishing impact, Tumblr’s sale to Automattic feels like a logical move to align it with other like content curation tools.

Artsy microblogging platform Tumblr is changing hands once again, this time to a seemingly natural partner: WordPress parent company Automattic.

Verizon announced this week that it had sold the blogging property to Automattic for “a nominal amount,” which is now being reported as less than 3 million dollars. This is a drastic drop in valuation from an all-time high of $1.1 billion, achieved when Yahoo! originally acquired the platform in 2013. Since then, the company was included in the sale to Verizon, and then part of the transformation of the brand into Oath. Now, seeking to streamline its struggling media arm, Verizon seems okay jettisoning the property to its new owner.

Tumblr has faced its own challenges independent of its parent company in the past year. In December 2018, responding to a ban from Apple’s App Store, it announced a ban on adult content across the platform—a ban that Automattic reportedly plans to uphold. While challenges from platforms like Facebook and Reddit were already challenging the company, this ban seems to have further harmed its prospects. Combined circumstances have resulted in a 33% drop in first-time mobile users. Nevertheless, the move to Automattic seems like a mutually beneficial one; Verizon has one fewer property in its soon-to-be revamped media arm (which also includes TechCrunch, Engadget and Huffington Post, among others).

In exchange, Automattic gets 200 employees from Tumblr, and a new addition to a dominant portfolio including WooCommerce, Jetpack, and Longreads. Says Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan in a statement,

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 new and exciting possibilities are thus far undefined, but The Verge reports that no major changes in functionality or operations are anticipated.

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