As It Focuses On Profitability, Tumblr Lays Off Team Behind Editorial Initiative Storyboard

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Tumblr has let go of the three person editorial team behind Storyboard, an experimental initiative to highlight users and organizations on the blogging platform, less than one year after the project went live. In a blog post, Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp said “what we’ve accomplished with Storyboard has run its course for now, and our editorial team will be closing up shop and moving on. I want to personally thank them for their great work. And please join us in wishing them well.”

Storyboard was launched last May, with Chris Mohney as its first editor-in-chief and Jessica Bennett as executive editor. Both came with plenty of publishing experience–Mohney was previously the editor of Gawker and Gridskipper and oversaw Blackbook magazine, while Bennett had formerly worked at The Daily Beast. The team also included editorial producer Sky Dylan-Robbins. Storyboard’s initial features included one on the companion Tumblr set up by New York Times’ photo archive, an interview with pianist and Tumblr user Dotan Negrin, and an infographic charting the many “Fuck Yeah” blogs set up on the platform. In an interview with Fast Company just after Storyboard’s launch last year, Mohney said “this is the first thing Tumblr has done that has a significant outward-facing goal.”

Mohney added monetization wasn’t an initial goal of the project and there were few immediate benefits for sponsors on Storyboard: “Tumblr’s revenue plan is to find partners who are interested in doing creative stuff on Tumblr as opposed to just bringing in banner ads. If (advertisers) are doing something great as part of their sponsorship program, they’ll get a lot more recognition out of that than from our editorial recognition.”

It seems like Storyboard’s lofty but less-than-lucrative directive may have fallen by the wayside as six-year-old Tumblr focuses on finally turning its first annual profit after allowing advertisers to pay for more prominent posts on its Web version and mobile app. Inside of using banner ads and keywords–or placement on Storyboard–Tumblr’s advertising system gives sponsors the chance to get more views and reblogs. Tumblr’s vice president of product Derek Gottfrid recently told Bloomberg that Tumblr’s mobile users have quadrupled over the past six months, bringing the total closer to the number of Web users and making the advertising initiative more important.

Tumblr has been emailed for comment.