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Do you remember Tumblr? The hybrid of social network and blog is making a comeback, and it's not because of Elon Musk

It was one of those big names with an old flavor from the first web —called— 2.0. Along with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace, Tumblr positioned itself as a strange hybrid between social networks and blogging platforms. Today, fifteen years after its foundation, Tumblr is also a hybrid halfway between the success of some of the platforms with which we compared them (Facebook or Twitter) and the failure of others (MySpace).

However, since its purchase by Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com and spins off its open source version (WordPress.org) seems to be starting to come back. It still has a long way to go, though.

The rise and fall of Tumblr

Tumblr's old interface Tumblr, conceived as a microblogging space, was created by software consultant David Karp in 2007. At a time when longer-form blogs were dominating on platforms like Blogger and WordPress, Tumblr offered a richer-format experience. short and rich in gifs and memes that attracted millions of people. There was a time, in fact, when Tumblr surpassed WordPress.com in the number of blogs. It had become a kind of ecosystem in which people shared the wildest part – in a good way – of internet culture, but also a lot of adult content, which, as we will see, would end up being its propellant and at the same time the main nail of his coffin.

In 2013, in the midst of success, it was acquired by Yahoo for more than a billion dollars. “Tumblr is redefining creative expression on the internet,” said then-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who would later prove far more wrong than right, not just with the acquisition of Tumblr.

Tumblr was then a site with enormous potential but no monetization capacity. Something similar, although much more accentuated, than what is now being debated with Twitter, where his name has resurfaced under the idea that some users of the social network that Elon Musk just bought had migrated to Tumblr due to the tycoon's acquisition. . It seems that they have been residual, but what is becoming more and more clear is that Tumblr is having a small unexpected resurgence.

Automattic (WordPress) and the Generation Z to the rescue of Tumblr

When Verizon ended up taking over Yahoo, Tumblr hit rock bottom. Karp left due to disagreements, and the parent company decided to ban adult content within the platforms after Apple removed its application from the AppStore for this issue. It was 2018.

Its users are estimated to have dropped by more than 40% since then. So when the company behind WordPress bought it in 2019 for a mere $3 million, it was seen as buying a dead body. What did Automattic see there?

The CEO of Automattic and founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, has recognized on several occasions that they have not achieved what they wanted and in January of this year Jeff D'Onofrio, who had been their CEO, suddenly left.

While TikTok, Instagram and increasingly Twitter launch the content that they think their users like directly to their screens, on Tumblr you still have to look for it

But before leaving, its former CEO revealed that Tumblr has a major green shoot: In 2022, Tumblr reports that there are 9.4 million daily posts on the platform, up from 84 million in 2014. But with the Increased nostalgia for the 90s and early 2000s among the Z generation, a revival of the platform seems possible. In January, D'Onofrio said that half of the platform's active users and 71% of its new users are from Generation Z, who have turned the platform into a kind of safe place to share memes and brief reflections. that, in a certain way, they have made their own.

There are many factors that made and make Tumblr different. The main one: a very basic algorithm compared to other social networks that is based on asking the user more than pushing content. While TikTok, Instagram, and increasingly Twitter are blasting the content it thinks its users like right onto their screens, Tumblr is yet to be found. And that appeal to have control seems to be being, once again, well valued.

The challenge, to make it profitable

In the last year alone, Tumblr has tried to monetize through a paid subscription with no advertising (sponsored posts don't appear for these users), an option to tip creators, and Blaze, a promotion or ads model, so to speak, but without any segmentation and very cheap.

There is still a lot to recover for Tumblr, which has gone from having 600 million visitors per month before the ban on erotic content in 2018 to just 300, but it seems that a new loophole has opened for her. We will see what continuity it has.