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Why Verizon Selling Tumblr Should Make Marketers Very, Very Happy (Thinks Out Loud Episode 254)

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Why Verizon Selling Tumblr Should Make Marketers Very, Very Happy (Thinks Out Loud Episode 254) – Headlines and Show Notes

So Verizon dumped Tumblr earlier this week for a measly $3 million, this less than a decade after Yahoo — which sold itself to Verizon in the invervening years — purchased the social blogging site for $1.1 billion. That’s remarkable. It’s also really great news for marketers, though probably not for the reasons you think.

So what is the reason? Why should Verizon selling Tumblr make marketers very, very happy?

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look — and helps you understand why this has nothing to do with Tumblr — and everything to do with your business.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links


Automattic bought Tumblr for maybe $3 million dollars

  • Remarkable story given that Yahoo paid $1.1 billion for it just six years ago
    • Yahoo in turn sold itself to Verizon just about 3 years ago for a bit less than $5 billion
    • Which means that, in theory, Tumblr represented somewhere between 20% and 25% of the value of Yahoo at the time
    • Clearly, that wasn’t the case
      • Of course there’s a joke going around that since it sold for so little after Verizon banned pornography on Tumblr, the porn was what was worth the billion dollars
  • Automattic is the company that helps build WordPress
  • WordPress is open-source software — meaning it’s free for anyone to use and develop — but Automattic was built by the original developers who built their business around providing managed versions of WordPress
  • Acquia does a similar thing with Drupal
  • I always liked Tumblr because of the sense of community there
    • It was about like-minded people publishing and sharing content that brought them together.
  • Nonetheless its value is more important than its price
    • Here’s why.

We still have the power

  • Yes, Google and Facebook control lots of traffic
  • “Hub and spoke” strategy
    • Hub is your website
    • Spokes are the various distribution and promotion channels you use
      • Facebook
      • Instagram
      • YouTube
      • Twitter
      • LinkedIn
      • Whatever’s next
  • But everything should always lead back to your website
    • You own the platform
    • You’re not dependent on any one source for your traffic — or for your voice
    • You can be found
    • You can be heard
    • When people complain about evil folks who are still published on the internet — and please don’t misunderstand, those people are awful — that’s actually a sign of how resilient the internet is; how powerful it enables individual voices to be
    • Yes, that’s a “When you build the ship, you build the shipwreck” moment
    • But that’s great for you as a company, as an individual, as a movement, as an idea
      • I’m not a Pollyanna about this
      • some of the worst people in the world manage to find one another — and be found by others with similar points of view — because of this
        • To be fair, some of the communities on Tumblr were remarkably toxic
        • My use declined some even before Yahoo bought it because of that
      • So can some of the best people.
    • It simply means you can always be found

Google won’t always be in charge

  • Google’s power is brittle
  • They’re very strong
  • Switching costs are zero
  • Explain switching costs
    • Car
      • New car
      • New insurance
      • If it’s electric, new ways to “fuel” or power the vehicle
    • Business switching from PC to Mac
      • New computers
      • New software
      • Training for your employees on the new computers and software
      • Training for your IT staff on how to support
      • Lots of new cables :)
  • Anyone can switch to Bing or DuckDuckGo or Ask or whatever comes next in an instant
    • Google has tried to build more lock-in with Gmail and Docs and Android, but the basic point of switching search engines — which is where Google makes all its money — is essentially free
    • Don’t believe me: Google pays Apple to be the default
    • Depending on whose data you believe, they’re paying between $9 and $12 billion dollars for the privilege.
    • Is that the behavior of the most powerful company in the world?
  • Facebook is far less brittle
    • But, strange as this sounds, they’re also far less influential
    • Do you get 50%/60%/70% of your traffic from Facebook or Instagram?
      • I bet not
    • And a fair bit of what gets shared there originates someplace else.

Anyone can still get on the Internet

  • Tumblr
  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Instagram and Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and LinkedIn and Reddit and TikTok and apps on App stores other new players that come down the pike
    • I know a guy who’s a marketing thought-leader around using LinkedIn to grow your business
    • Yes, you’re relying on a gatekeeper — a less powerful one, but still a gatekeeper. But you’re also able to get online and get seen and get heard
    • That’s why you’ve got to go “hub and spoke”
  • That’s great for your business.
    • Lots of impressive brands have been built this way
      • Airbnb
      • Uber
      • Etsy
      • Reverb
  • And it’s great for people more generally.

Other big story: The protests in Hong Kong

  • How do we know what’s going on?
  • Because people are able to be heard

It’s not Utopia; it’s not Dystopia

  • Utopia literally means “no-place”
  • Dystopia literally means “not-good place”
  • The Internet is just a “topia.” It’s a place.
  • The good and the bad is how we use it.
  • The good and the bad is in the stories we tell
  • The good and the bad is in the communities we build
  • And the good and the bad is in the people we attract
  • Tumblr got bought for $3 million after originally selling for $1.1 billion
  • If its new owners allow it to foster the right kinds of communities, it will be the best money they’ve ever spent

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast:

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Neumann TLM 102 Cardoid Condenser microphone and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB audio interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 17m 44s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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