Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Opinion: From tumblr to Tumbleweed - I Give It a Year
One Billion Dollars!! If, like me, you were surprised to hear that this is not Dr. Evil splashing the cash, but Internet dionsaur Yahoo, your first reaction might have been: wow, Yahoo has still got a billion dollars?
Second surprise; they just spent it on a cash acquisition. Yes, cash. This is not one of those debt-laden stock-for-control deals we got used to in the tech sector.
Third, Yahoo just bought tumblr.
tumblr is the vowel-deficient blogging service that all the cool kids use. I don't. I am not a cool kid. All the lively Internet memes and viral pictures that tumblr hosts have passed me by.
tumblr users view themselves as cool, a bit edgy, a bit subversive. They are in the 18-25 demographic.
tumblr has made no money to speak of.
Yahoo is a huge corporate entity. It is desperate to make money. In Internet years (like dog years) Yahoo is aged about 108.
Yahoo buying tumblr is a bit like your Dad buying the local youth centre because he wants to hang around the cool kids and sell them some cool stuff. Your Dad's idea of cool stuff is not theirs. A lot of the cool kids will leave as soon as they hear your Dad just bought their youth centre. Your Dad's very presence at the youth centre guarantees that most of the youth will stay away. Especially when your Dad's friends turn up.
Your Dad's friends will start asking him to take down all the pictures and grafitti that offends them, either because it's inappropriate, or the cool kids stole it from them and defaced it, turning it into something they don't approve of.
So more of the cool kids will stay away. In fact, they will go set up shop somewhere else your Dad and his friends never heard of. That's not up for sale.
At some point your Dad will realise he's not making any money out of the few cool kids who are left (the apathetic ones who weren't really in the cool set to begin with) and will transform the youth centre into a latte-drinker's coffe bar with baby change area and Coldplay on the sound system (the cool kids' music gives him a headache, anyway).
This is what happens when your Dad's generation try to buy into 'cool.' Especially when they think they can make money out of it. By the time you can bottle it and sell it, it is no longer cool.
This is what will happen after Yahoo completes the acquisition of tumblr.
Don't believe me? What happened to MySpace?