Yahoo is bidding for Tumblr in an attempt to boost its social media credentials, but Facebook and other parties may be interested in spoiling the party.
Tumble in the Social Media Jungle
As Tumblr approaches 120 million visitors a month, 15 billion pageviews and over 100 million accounts, it is rapidly becoming a prime target for takeover talk. Valued at $800 million just a couple of years back, it should now be well into the billion dollar category. But, more importantly, its user base would be a valuable asset to any company struggling to grow its own numbers.
Yahoo, led by Marissa Mayer is supposed to be in talks with Tumblr's owners, and the company, which has recently focused on quality and customer experience with a reduction in the number of apps and a focus on features, is badly in need of a fresh injection of users. Yahoo's recent email app for tablets and acquisition of Summly have generated headlines, but don't seem to be bringing in a massive boost in users.
By tying Tumblr users to Yahoo accounts, the former search company could get a sizeable injection of activity, even if some users will vent their spleens and take their content elsewhere. Tumblr's micro-bloggers have generated a lively site with impressive content-themed archives and lively discussion, something that any company would consider an asset.
UPDATE: Monday's early headlines suggest Yahoo will complete the deal for $1.1 billion. Now the questions turn to how Yahoo will get its display adverts onto a site that has scorned such elements in the past and whose design would be severely compromised by them. Or, after poorly received transitions for previous acquisitions, Delicio.us and Flickr, will Yahoo take a more organic approach?
Bidders in the Wings
However, Yahoo won't be alone in thinking of Tumblr as a prime asset. Facebook is known to snap up other sites and apps on a whim, and may be keen on Tumblr's content style that could help it provide more focused pages for users.
Microsoft lacks any real social presence, with its focus on communications via its Yammer and Skype acquisitions, and a recent search/content partnership with Klout. While Apple has dabbled and failed with social media in the past, both might be keen to get more involved in the scene.
Google itself has done well out of blogging with the Blogger.com buy-out that now neatly ties into AdSense and Google's unified log-in. Google is also moving forward with a major mobile focus, something that Tumblr has recently started looking into,
Any of these cash-rich companies might be interested in picking up Tumblr's user base and doing something on their platform to promote the rich content that it provides. We're pretty sure we'll hear soon enough if a bidding war erupts, but even if Yahoo makes a clean getaway with an accepted deal, it could make an interesting change in the social media scene.