This is the second time they've been bought. You all know or maybe you don't but I'm only sitting here because of Tumblr. Tumblr completely changed my life. It was the first thing in my adult life that I felt good at. It was the first place in New York that I experienced any sort of success. My career and life in New York until then had been pretty mediocre and honestly, disappointing.
I talk a bit about that in Fohr Ground episode one with Tim if you haven't listened to it. Tumblr was really special place for me. It's where I got more confident in my creativity, in my writing, certainly in my photography. It was this amazing community of really supportive interesting people who many of whom I'm still very close with today. The guy who's making drinks for our event tonight, my friend, I met him through Tumblr. Tim, I think found out about Fohr because he followed my Tumblr.
There's probably a handful of people that work at this company because they used to read my blog. I love Tumblr and I was really sad to see it die. I'm not sad it got sold for $3 million because it's been dead for so long but to sell five years ago for $1.1 billion and then this week to sell for $3 million, it's a cautionary tale for what can and generally does happen to platforms. When we started this company, Instagram was a joke. It was just a total non-factor. Tumblr was really all people talked about.
We really started the company because you couldn't see how many followers someone's Tumblr had. When we started this company, Instagram was pretty much a non-factor. It was fairly new and nobody really cared about it. A big reason we started the company is that you would find a Tumblr that you liked and you had no way to know how many followers they had. By connecting to Fohr through an API we could show how many followers a Tumblr account had. That was really one of the big key features and benefits of Fohr and one of the reasons that we started.
To have in that short amount of time the platform go from dominance to a joke is heartbreaking and shocking. I think that should be a wake-up call that while Instagram and Facebook have a lot more money, a lot more power and generally are better run organizations than Tumblr ever was and I think have much more staying power, obviously. Instagram will never maintain its hold on culture that it has today in perpetuity. It is just not possible. It's just not how culture works.
Tumblr is a small example I think of what you can expect for Instagram in the coming decade and a reminder to everyone that you need to diversify, that you need to try new platforms, and you need to understand that to have a long career in this space is going to mean constant reinvention and is going to mean having to figure out a way to take your audience with you not only through your own life changes of aging and maybe starting a family or moving cities or whatever it might be, changing taste but also in and out of new platforms.
I cannot stress enough that hope is not a strategy. You can't just hope that Instagram will continue to be as popular as it is today because it's just never going to happen. If you don't have a contingency plan I would freak out now because you still have time to fix it because we have years before something catastrophic is going to happen to Instagram but it absolutely will. If you don't have a plan or you're not working on one today then I would just subtly start to freak out.
If I wasn't afraid of staining my beautiful 60-year old desk I would pour out some of this rosé for Tumblr for what it used to be, for what it did for my life, for all the people that I have met. It was a beautiful time in the internet, my favorite time of the internet. I look back on it fondly. David Karp, you don't watch this show. We had drinks once, you probably don't know who the fuck I am but I thank you and I bid you adieu.
- Unsolicited Gifting, Image Permissions, Tumblr Acquisition