Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial notebook: Yahoo tumbles into the hip

It's a sign of the economic times. While unemployment remains stubbornly high, a 26-year-old high school dropout is now worth $275 million thanks to a stodgy media giant keen to feel cool.

This week, David Karp sold Tumblr, the blogging site he created six years ago, to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. Tumblr has grown exponentially in recent years and will bring the page views and young users Yahoo craves. What is unclear is how Yahoo will turn the largely ad-free site into a moneymaker without alienating the creative community it hosts.

Tumblr is a short-form, blogging-meets-social media platform in which users follow others and like, share or react to content they post. It's an engaged network ranging from art and literature to travel and comedy, or, for many, memes and cat photos.

Facebook still reigns supreme by virtue of its massive user base, but it doesn't captivate the same way it once did. People are increasingly letting their Facebook accounts grow stale while seeking meaningful engagement elsewhere. Tumblr has been a haven for creators of all sorts who want to find the content they love while connecting with others.

CEO Marissa Mayer called Tumblr "just the kind of property that Yahoo needed to make it both 'cool' and relevant to new consumers." That reflects how old-fashioned Yahoo is grasping at straws in a bid to become hip with a younger demographic.

But Yahoo remains optimistic, despite some users' panic and vows to abandon Tumblr if Yahoo makes unwelcome changes.

Yahoo's track record hasn't been all that encouraging. In Yahoo's hands, (the already-suffering) Geo-cities crumbled. The promising photo site Flickr has been all but left to the dogs. The success of this acquisition depends on Yahoo's next steps.

I've been a Tumblr user for three years, and I love the circle I've carved out for myself there. Clunky ads and a barrage of sponsored posts would feel like an invasion of the space I've created. More ads would make the entire community feel different — and it's not even clear if Tumblr can really generate revenue yet. Thanks to Karp's general aversion to advertising, Tumblr has made practically nothing since its inception — and a poor attempt at making money could sink the whole ship.

Furthermore, we know young folks are notoriously fickle, as evidenced by the Internet graveyard that is now Myspace. If Yahoo gets heavy-handed, expect retaliation in the form of deleted accounts. After all, WordPress offers a feature in which users can import all Tumblr content to a blog there. Let's avoid that fate.

I'm still optimistic. Mayer has pledged to keep Yahoo separate from Tumblr, aiding its growth via Yahoo infrastructure but, essentially, letting it be (a la Google's acquisition of YouTube).

Maybe, then, Yahoo can help ensure Tumblr's relative longevity while still maintaining its core missions — to create and to share — and staying true to the culture it has fostered. (And, one can only hope, installing a usable search function.)

Claire McNeill, a Times intern, is the 2013 Pittman Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18