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F@*k yeah! Don’t screw up

May 20, 2013

Hey, I know that Tumblr isn’t really aimed at me. And, goodness knows, I don’t want to needlessly relieve myself on someone else’s parade. But! But, like most of you, I have a direct interest in big international companies doing well and being well managed, it’s called my pension. Because of the business we’re all in, I’d also like to be able to say that companies that are ambitious to lead our sector are among the world’s best; as good, if not better, investments as any public company from any other sector.

Which brings us to Yahoo! We could probably stop there – Yahoo! is the poster boy for early entrants who then miss every boat leaving for the land of opportunity. Few have made so many poor decisions that have cost their investors so much money.

And now they’ve bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Compared to the IPO price of Facebook, I suppose that seems cheap. And if this turns out to be another YouTube in terms of exploitation, it will be cheap.

But the evidence isn’t good – there are no figures for Tumblr revenue, perhaps because there isn’t any, or not much anyway. But maybe there is a well worked out road map for integration and exploitation. Maybe. But the deal press releases are all about emphasising continuing separateness and no change. In fact, the press releases are excruciating; the marcom equivalent of scraping fingernails down a backboard.

Melissa Mayer – the latest and current CEO of Yahoo! – promises ‘we won’t screw it up.’ Meaning we won’t screw up the way Tumblr is now – which is extremely popular and virtually revenue-free. Well, isn’t that down with the kids?

Responding in nauseating kind, David Karp, the founder and CEO who will make $220 million over four years, says: “As always, everything that Tumblr is, we owe to this unbelievable community. We won’t let you down. Fuck yeah, David”

This is the message on the opening screen of Tumblr as the deal is announced. Really. But then David is young, and now he’s rich and that would make me feel pretty ‘fuck yeah.’ The rest of the short message reassured users that nothing about Tumblr would change.

Mayer, who runs a large public company, has less excuse. These two paragraphs comprise about half of the whole press release announcing the deal:

“Tumblr is redefining creative expression online,” said Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. “On many levels, Tumblr and Yahoo! couldn’t be more different, but, at the same time, they couldn’t be more complementary. Yahoo is the Internet’s original media network. Tumblr is the Internet’s fastest-growing media frenzy. Both companies are homes for brands – established and emerging. And, fundamentally, Tumblr and Yahoo! are both all about users, design, and finding surprise and inspiration amidst the everyday.”

“I’ve long held the view that in all things art and design, you can feel the spirit and demeanor of the creator. That’s why it was no surprise to me that David Karp is one of the nicest, most empathetic people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most perceptive, capable entrepreneurs I’ve ever worked with,” continued Mayer. “David’s respect for Tumblr’s community of creators is awesome. I’m absolutely delighted to have him join our team.”

In the whole release there is not one word about money (except the purchase price), or revenue, or profit, or strategy, or costs or economies.

Has Yahoo! bought Tumblr because it is the last most hip social media enterprise out there for sale (until twitter is sold, and Yahoo! probably can’t afford that), and it thought it better get it before anyone else did? Or does it have a well-honed strategy that it just doesn’t want to tell us about. If the sum total of its strategy is ‘don’t screw up [by not changing anything about the non-money making business we just bought for $1.1bn]’ then investors will be saying ‘fuck yeah, let’s get (yet another) CEO.’

Categories: Blogs, Business, M&A, Nick Snow, Social Media