Category Archives: Tumblr

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg Details Tumblr’s Future

This week, owner Matt Mullenweg confirmed his company would be shifting the majority of Tumblr’s workforce to other areas at the parent company Automattic in light of the social blogging site’s continued financial woes, TechCrunch reported.

After acknowledging and explaining the meaning behind a leaked internal memo detailing staff changes, Mullenweg then went on to field a number of questions about Tumblr’s future as an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on his own Tumblr blog. Here, the exec responded to questions about Tumblr’s plans for existing products like, Tumblr Live, its monetization efforts, policies and its planned integration with the decentralized social networking protocol ActivityPub, which Mullenweg had earlier said was in the works.

What are Tumblr’s monetization plans?

Tumblr today offers a subscription which is currently the best way to support the site, Mullenweg said. Users can choose from either the Tumblr Support badge for $29.99/year or $2.99/month or subscribe to a similarly-priced ad-free offering. Subscribing on the web instead of in-app allows Tumblr to keep more of its revenue as it doesn’t have to pay app store commissions.

However, TechCrunch reported, out of Tumblr’s 11.5 million active users, only 27,000 are subscribers (0.2%). If 10-20% subscribed, Tumblr would be in good shape, Mullenweg noted. Then, “we could run the site forever,” he shared.

What’s more, he said the Tumblr Supporter badge hasn’t been very successful on its own, with only 2,300 total subscribers to that product.

ArsTechnica reported that Tumblr will lose a majority of its product-minded staff by the end of this year, according to the CEO of the company that owns it. But, despite a recently leaked memo quoting Tennyson’s “better to have loved and lost” line, the CEO believes they are “setting up Tumblr for success in this next chapter.”

The memo states that a majority of the 139 employees on product and marketing at Tumblr (in a team apparently named “Bumblr”) will “switch to other divisions.” Those working in “Happiness” (Automattic’s customer support and service division) and “T&S” (trust and safety) would remain.

“We are at the point where after 600+ person-years of effort put into Tumblr since the acquisition in 2019, we have not gotten the expected results from our effort, which was to have revenue and usage above its previous peaks,” the posted memo reads. After quotes and anecdotes about love, loss, and mountain climbing, and learning on the journey, the memo notes that nobody will be let go and that team members can make a ranked list of their top three preferred assignments elsewhere inside Automattic.

PCMag reported that Tumblr is in trouble. Recent efforts to turn things around at the blogging site have fallen flat, which will result in a 2024 re-org.

“What’s super clear is our previous approach wasn’t working,” Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Tumblr owner Automattic, said in a recent post. “It didn’t turn around the business to make enough money to support the investment of infrastructure and staff needed to run Tumblr, and a lot of users were unhappy with some of the changes we tried.”

In my opinion, there would be a lot of people who currently use Tumblr that would be sad if the site disappears due to lack of revenue. Tumblr has changed hands over the years, and it would be a shame if the site just poofs out of existence.

Tumblr Wants To Fix Its Core Experience To Appeal To New Users

Tumblr posted on its Staff website about “Tumblr’s Core Product Safety.”

“Here at Tumblr, we’ve been working hard on reorganizing how we work in a bid to gain more users. A larger user base means a more sustainable company, and means we get to stick around and do this thing with you all a bit longer. What follows the strategy we’re using to accomplish the goal of user growth. The @labs group has published a bit already, but this is bigger. We’re publishing it publicly for the first time, in an effort to work more transparently with all of you in the Tumblr community. This strategy provides guidance amid limited resources, allowing our teams to focus on specific key areas to ensure Tumblr’s growth.”

The Diagnosis

In order for Tumblr to grow, we need to fix the core experience that makes Tumblr a useful place for users. The underlying problem is that Tumblr is not easy to use. Historically, we have expected users to curate their feeds and lean into curating their experience. But this expectation introduces friction to the user experience and only serves a small portion of our audience…

…To guarantee Tumblr’s continued success, we’ve got to prioritize fostering that seamless connection between people and content. This involves attracting and retaining new users and creators, nurturing their growth, and encouraging frequent engagement with the platform.

Our Guiding Principles

  • To enhance Tumblr’s usability, we must address these core guiding principles.
  • Expand the ways new users can discover and sign up for Tumblr.
  • Provide high-quality content with every app launch.
  • Facilitate easier user participation in conversations.
  • Retain and grow our creator base.
  • Create patterns that encourage users to keep returning to Tumblr
  • Improve the platform’s performance, stability and quality.

The Verge reported the changes suggest Tumblr is interested in positioning itself as a stronger competitor to mainstream social network, particularly for creators who want to share material on the platform. The goals include helping creators attract more engagement and making sure people see engaging posts every time they open Tumblr.

According to The Verge, the most obvious change for existing users may be a series of planned updates to the reply and reblog system. “The current way that conversations work on Tumblr across replies and reblog is confusing for new users,” the staff blog says.

Tumblr plans to let users reply to a particular addition to a reblogged post (very loosely equivalent to a quote-tweet) instead of grouping all replies under the original. It also wants to “explore the feasibility of removing duplicate reblog within a user’s Following feed,” in case you don’t want to watch popular posts ping-pong around in your social circle.

Engadget reported that Tumblr could be the latest platform to borrow from TikTok’s playbook. The companies planning a major revamp of its platform that will bring algorithmic recommendations to users’ feeds, according to a memo published on the Tumblr Staff blog.

According to Engadget, the Automattic-owned platform says its working to “improve our algorithmic ranking capabilities across all feeds” and “make it easier for users to understand where the vibrant communities on Tumblr are.”

In my opinion, Tumblr could use a revamp. “Being a 15-year-old brand is tough because the brand carries the baggage of a person’s preconceived impressions of Tumblr,” Tumblr itself stated. Now is a good time for this 15-year-old website to grow and try new things.