It is now official that Tumblr will become part of Yahoo. Marissa announced the news in style with an animated gif. I have been lucky to be part of Tumblr’s journey as an angel investor and as an active blogger on the service since February 2008.
I am excited about the combination with Yahoo. When Marissa took over Yahoo, I expected that acquisitions would play a role in her transformation of the company. At the time I wrote that the ideal target would be “startups that have very talented people and also interesting products but could benefit from the scale of Yahoo.” Tumblr fits that bill perfectly. It has super talented people and a really interesting product. It can also benefit from Yahoo’s scale — both for reducing its infrastructure cost and for selling the wonderfully nonintrusive ads that appear occasionally in the Tumblr dashboard.
I am also excited because this will finally bring Yahoo to New York City. During the dotcom days Yahoo moved all of its acquisitions out West (e.g. Hotjobs) which was a tremendous talent drain for New York. Now most of the big Internet companies will have a strong presence here which is great for the local community. These days acquiring companies understand the importance of New York and are enabling the local teams to build out a stronger presence (e.g. eBay and Hunch, Adobe and Behance). We have Google to thank for starting this trend.
And now it’s time for me to reply to all my friends who have sent congratulations over the last few days. I couldn’t reply because the deal had not been officially announced yet. Which reminds me: to all the journalists who sent “congrats” notes fishing for an official confirmation — nice try and better luck next time!
Managed to get into Google+ last night and here are some very early impressions.
First, there is a lot to learn and explore. They clearly built a ton of different things and it will take folks, myself included, a while to figure it all out. It does feel a bit like they wanted to take on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook in one fell swoop, which is a tall order.
Second, it does still feel a bit rushed because stuff doesn’t hang together all that well yet. For instance, navigating from circles to the stream page and back feels almost like you are in different services. It would seem that they put a premium on getting it out there before sanding down some of these rough edges. One theory is that this is just what anyone would do with a new product - get user feedback. It could be related though to the FTC anti-trust inquiry with a desire to get it into the wild before regulators clamp down on what Google can launch.
Third, a lot of the initial rush into the service is very clearly driven by people wanting to check it out and many of the early posts reflect that. So don’t think that one can read much into that for the long term vibrancy of Google+ (or lack thereof).
As for my questions about circles from yesterday my first reactions are that this is clearly a work in progress. A lot of people don’t have pictures attached to their Google profiles which makes pulling them into circles a bit tricky at times. The more important problems are cognitive. It’s easy to understand what my friends and family circles are. But what if I create a circle called USV and so does Christina? What is the relationship between these separate circles? What if someone outside the firm establishes a USV circle?
And the point that I raised yesterday about the potential for mismatched privacy expectations seems to already be playing itself out. Apparently (I haven’t used it yet) there is a reshare feature that makes it super easy to take content and pass it along. Anything posted to any circle can as of right now be reshared to any other circle or even the general public with a single click as this FT story points out. That would seem to fly in the face of Google’s positioning circles as a way to control reach. So either they need to change that positioning or they need to clamp down on how reshare works.