Tracking: Yahoo’s Acquisition Spree

Marissa Mayer’s first visible mission as CEO of Yahoo has been a series of startup acquisitions.

Tracking: Yahoo’s Acquisition Spree

July 2, 2013

Yahoo Acquires Qwiki

Yahoo added multimedia sharing app Qwiki to its growing collection of startups on Monday. All Things D reports an acquisition price of around $50 million.


Qwiki recently launched an iPhone app that automatically analyzes your phone’s photo library to spot events that you might want to share, gives you the option to add captions and music, and then, within seconds, produces a tweetable multimedia presentation. “It’s more than a niche,” Qwiki’s founder, Doug Imbruce, told Fast Company in an interview earlier this year.. “People want to share experiences, not just snapshots.”

Yahoo said in a blog post it will keep the Qwiki brand in tact. The startup’s team will move into Yahoo’s New York office.


May 31, 2013

First In-Stream Ads Hit Tumblr’s Website

Just a week after Yahoo revealed it was buying Tumblr and confirmed that more ads were coming to the service, Tumblr’s said it’s adding more ads to its website. Some adverts have been shown to users of Tumblr’s mobile apps already, but by bringing the same advertising style to the desktop experience, Tumblr’s trying to expand the audience for its ad partners. The ads will be shown as part of a user’s normal stream of Tumblogs–in a way that’s similar to sponsored tweets in Twitter.

Users will only see up to four ads a day, and sponsored posts are clearly demarcated by a logo of a dollar sign shooting out light rays. This seems like an attempt to appease the worries of Tumblr users, who are said to be nervous that Yahoo will change Tumblr for the worse.


May 21, 2013

What Tumblr’s Stakeholders Think About Yahoo

Founder David Karp has a massive advertising challenge ahead, most say, and that (plus 1.1 billion other reasons) is why he made a smart choice in going with Yahoo.

Yahoo plans to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion just as the startup was starting to see profitability on its horizon. None of Tumblr’s stakeholders would bemoan one of the largest exit in New York history, but there will always be a question of what the social microblogging service could have become as an independent company.

“I view this as fundamentally David’s decision,” John Borthwick, the CEO of Betaworks and one of Tumblr’s earliest investors, tells Fast Company. “He was at a crossroads where he could have raised more money or he could have done this deal. And I think he really believes that matching it together with the Yahoo platform gives him the ability to take what he has built a ton of commitment and passion around and continue to grow it within the construct of Yahoo.”


Marissa Mayer said in her first Tumblr blog post that the service will integrate Yahoo search infrastructure and personalization technologies.

“The most important of all is probably ad sales,” Borthwick says.

Speaking Tuesday at the CM Summit in New York, Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson, another investor in Tumblr, also pointed to ad sales as an important way Yahoo could help the service.


According to Mashable, he said that marketers haven’t been receptive to Tumblr’s native ad offerings:

They say, ‘We’re already doing it with Facebook, we’re already doing it with YouTube, we’re already doing it with Twitter… How many more do we have to do?’ So it’s been hard for Tumblr. They’re making good progress. I’m not suggesting that they wouldn’t get there on their own. But Yahoo has those relationships. They have big budgets from those marketers and for them to say, ‘Why don’t you take $10 million from your budget and stop buying banners and start buying native promoted content inside Tumblr, that’s huge for Tumblr. That’s going to get them parity with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in marketers’ mindsets in a way that they would not have ever gotten on their own.

Marco Arment, Tumblr’s first lead developer, meanwhile, argued in a blog post that David Karp is a product genius on par with Steve Jobs, and that we will all be better off if he can focus on Tumblr’s product.

“David’s perfectly able to worry about money and operations,” he wrote, “but I bet he really doesn’t want to. At best, it would be a tremendous waste of his time and talent. We — internet users, creative people, publishers, socializers — will be much better served if David can focus on his product’s features, design, and messaging instead of worrying about server architecture and raising more money. This is why I’m optimistic about the Yahoo acquisition.”


The true test of whether or not Tumblr’s acquisition will fare well for the service will come later, Borthwick says. It’s about how people align, how the cultures align and other factors that are difficult to predict. But there have been some good signs.

“People have talked about the hard stuff,” he says. “You often get deals like this when the press release comes out and you don’t get the hard questions. For example, will Tumblr be a separate brand? Is Yahoo committed to New York? Is Yahoo committed to building out Tumblr and resourcing it? All those questions were asked and answered yesterday. And I think that’s a big step forward.“

Flickr’s Revamp Demonstrates The Upside Of Being Acquired By Yahoo

If Flickr’s new features are any indication, Tumblr will join a very different Yahoo tan the photo site did back in 2005.
“Flickr was awesome once, it languished, and we now want it to be awesome again,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said at an event Monday evening….


May 20, 2013

How Adult Tumblrs Could Land Yahoo In A Legal Pinch

Marissa Mayer says she wants to “let Tumblr be Tumblr” after acquiring David Karp’s microblogging service for $1.1 billion. But the bigger problem for Yahoo might be porn pages that don’t reveal enough. (As in the age of consenting adults in clips and GIFs.)

Marissa Mayer Explains How Tumblr Will Earn Its Keep–Yes, There Will Be More Ads

When Marissa Mayer promised to “not screw up” Tumblr, she didn’t mean that she wouldn’t ramp up advertising on it.

She told Yahoo investors in a conference call this morning:
“Tumblr has what’s called the dashboard, which is their version of the newsfeed, or in old school terms, an inbox for the blogs you follow. So basically different bloggers that you follow can all appear there in your feed.


“And today, Tumblr already does some advertising, though minimal, in that feed. We would like to look at them and understand how we could introduce ads, in a very light ad load, where the impact is really created, because the ads really fit the users’ expectations and follow the form and function of the dashboard.”


In addition, she said Yahoo has an opportunity to put ads on Tumblr blogs that want them.

Other revenue opportunities that Yahoo sees in Tumblr include an opportunity to grow its search business through integration with the microblog and additional data about users’ interests that can be used to further personalize other Yahoo properties.

Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman said the company expects Tumblr to impact Yahoo’s revenue as soon as next year. Considering that last year Tumblr pulled in just $13 million and wasn’t profitable, that’s a great expectation.


Yahoo Share Price Dips Before Markets Open

In pre-market trading in the moments after the Yahoo-Tumblr news was announced, Yahoo’s share price dipped down by nearly 1.4% as traders expressed their attitude toward the acquisition.

3 Product Ideas Marissa Mayer Should Steal From David Karp On Day One

Yahoo is reportedly buying Tumblr for its young audience, but here are three product tricks we hope it steals in the process.

Yahoo Acquires Tumblr For $1.1 Billion

Yahoo confirmed it will acquire Tumblr Monday morning for $1.1 billion.


“We promise not to screw it up,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wrote on her Tumblr blog.

Tumblr will use Yahoo’s personalization technology and search infrastructure in its product, while Yahoo will add Tumblr’s 50 billion blog posts to its media network. Mayer said she thinks the acquisition could grow Yahoo’s audience by 50% and traffic by 20%.

Tumblr CEO David Karp reassured users in his own Tumblr post that the acquisition would not change his six-year-old site’s user experience or mission, but rather make it faster. “Plus both our logos end with punctuation!” he added.

His sign-off, naturally: “Fuck yeah.”

WordPress Says Folks Fleeing Tumblr Already

WordPress is already the world’s most popular blogging platform, and according to founder Matt Mullenweg, Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr has already made it more so–even at the rumor stage. Mullenweg says that since the Yahoo rumors hit, initially about 400 to 600 people per hour were “defecting” from Tumblr onto his site. Then the figure rose to 72,000 blogs migrating in just one hour.

Why this may be true is unclear, though we can guess. There may be nervousness Yahoo will close Tumblr, or dramatically reshape it into something else. Some Tumblr content may not fit into Yahoo’s corporate model, and be unceremoniously ditched if Mayer’s company gets control. We imagine this story will develop as the defections figure is examined more properly in time–and Yahoo will be watching closely: It presumably likes Tumblr for its huge userbase, but if it’s hemorrhaging users now, is it still as valuable?

This update contributed by Kit Eaton

May 19, 2013

Yahoo Reportedly Eying Tumblr Acquisition

Yahoo hopes to acquire Tumblr in an effort to appeal to a younger audience, according to a report from AllThingsD. The fledgling media company needs to be “cool again,” CFO Ken Goldman explained at JP Morgan’s Global Technology conference.

The same site later reported Tumblr’s board will meet Sunday to discuss a $1.1 billion offer from Yahoo. Tumblr was reportedly valued at $800 million in 2011.

Though some have reported Facebook will compete to acquire Tumblr, Yahoo sparked a flurry of speculation about the acquisition by announcing a press event in New York City on Monday.

May 9, 2013

Yahoo Acquires Mobile Polling Tool GoPollGo And Travel Site Milewise

Yahoo confirmed two acquisitions: Real-time polling tool GoPollGo, which allows brands and media companies to get real-time feedback, and Milewise, a travel site.

Both teams joined Yahoo’s mobile division.

May 1, 2013

Yahoo’s Latest Acquisition Is Astrid, An App That Outsources Your To-Do List

The social productivity platform creator said on its blog that it would continue to work for 90 days and “be in touch with users shortly to share how to download data.”

The team of about ten will join Yahoo!’s mobile team.

Yahoo said in a statement, “We’re excited to welcome Astrid to Yahoo!’s mobile team. Their background in personalized mobile experiences is impressive, and we know they will be a huge asset to as we continue to re-imagine our products.”

March 26, 2013

What Yahoo’s Acquisitions Have In Common

Marissa Mayer is on a shopping spree. This week’s announcement that Yahoo will acquire news aggregator Summly marks her sixth startup purchase since taking over as Yahoo’s CEO in July.

Previous acquisitions include:

  • Stamped, which Yahoo acquired in October, was a mobile app that kept track of restaurants, books, movies, and anything else users liked.
  •, which Yahoo acquired in January, clipped and shared news articles in a Pinterest-like format.
  • Alike, which Yahoo acquired in February, made restaurant recommendations based on users’ previous preferences.
  • Jybe, which Yahoo acquired in March, recommended movies, books, and restaurants based on data contained in social networks.
  • Summly, the news aggregator Yahoo acquired this week, surfaced news most relevant to each user.

(The sixth acquisition, OnTheAir, was a video chat company.)

Yahoo is building an interest graph–a map of what users are interested in that the company can use to personalize their content. And all of the apps Yahoo has acquired so far help users define their interests and find information that matches them.

Read more about what all of Yahoo’s acquisitions have in common here.


About the author

Sarah Kessler is a senior writer at Fast Company, where she writes about the on-demand/gig/sharing "economies" and the future of work.