Last year’s decision to ban porn from its platform has had a marked adverse effect on Tumblr’s traffic. No surprise, really, especially given how wide the net was cast for “adult content” when it announced back in December. Now the blogging platform’s media parent is looking to sell, according to a new story from The Wall Street Journal.
The paper cites “people familiar with the matter.” We reached out to Verizon Media Group (which, for the record, also owns TechCrunch) and unsurprisingly got your bog standard statement about not commenting on rumors.
A sale wouldn’t be much of a surprise, given Tumblr’s history at the company. Yahoo bought the platform for north of $1 billion in 2013, with Verizon inheriting it as part of its 2017 acquisition of Yahoo. Tumblr was rolled up into the short-lived Oath business, which has since been rebranded as the much more straightforward Verizon Media Group.
As the piece notes, Tumblr ultimately failed to be the money-maker Yahoo and Verizon were hoping for, exacerbated by the fact that other social media properties have since taken some of the wind out of the company’s sails. A few years after the acquisition, Yahoo had written down the site’s value significantly. Verizon’s Q1 financials, meanwhile, had media revenues down 7.2% year-over-year.
The recent adult content ban has managed to both derail traffic and upset much of the site’s core user base. But Tumblr has stood firm, citing concerns over graphic child exploitation, all while arguably casting its net far too wide to include anything falling underneath the adult content banner.
It’s tough to say which media company might be in the market for Tumblr at this point. The once white-hot platform doesn’t hold the same sort of cache it did when it was purchased half a decade ago. Notably, Tumblr also lost its CTO to SeatGeek earlier this week.
Update: According to SensorTower‘s data on Tumblr’s last quarter, the service’s new mobile user count hit its lowest point since Q4 2013, and it was down about 40% year-over-year from Q1 2018.