News / Economy

Yahoo Buying Tumblr for $1.1 Billion

 A news headline about the Tumblr sale to Yahoo scrolls on a building in New York's Times Square, May 20, 2013. A news headline about the Tumblr sale to Yahoo scrolls on a building in New York's Times Square, May 20, 2013.
x
 A news headline about the Tumblr sale to Yahoo scrolls on a building in New York's Times Square, May 20, 2013.
A news headline about the Tumblr sale to Yahoo scrolls on a building in New York's Times Square, May 20, 2013.
Reuters
Yahoo Inc said it is buying blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion cash, giving the struggling Internet pioneer a much-needed platform in social media to reach a younger generation of users.

The deal, announced Monday, is a bold bet by Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer to revitalize the company by co-opting a Web property with strong visitor traffic, but little revenue.

Yahoo made clear it was sensitive to concerns that it might damage Tumblr by making it less irreverent or more corporate.

“Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,” Yahoo said in a statement.

The acquisition, which will use up about a fifth of Yahoo's $5.4 billion in cash and marketable securities, is the largest by far since Mayer took the reins in July with the goal of reversing a long decline in Yahoo's business and Web traffic.

Analysts said Yahoo appeared to be overpaying for a business that might not contribute to revenue for years, but said that Yahoo had to do something to plug a hole in its social media efforts.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney called it a “long-shot/long-term investment” but one that fits into Mayer's turnaround strategy.

“[Yahoo's] fundamentals have been subpar for numerous years, in part because of the company's missing presence in Social and Mobile. Tumblr may help [Yahoo] develop that presence,” Mahaney said in a note.

Tumblr is one of the Web's most popular hubs of so-called user-generated content, drawing young people who use the platform to post pictures and text. Tumblr has more than 100 million blogs in its network, ranging from “White Men Wearing Google Glass” to housing-focused “The Worst Room.”

Though Yahoo remains one of the Web's most popular destinations, it has seen its revenue shrink in recent years as consumers and advertisers favor rivals such as Google and Facebook. The deal is expected to increase Yahoo's audience by 50 percent.

Rich premium

While Tumblr is certainly popular - it has tens of millions of monthly unique visitors - analysts questioned what kind of contribution it will make to Yahoo revenue, since advertising on the site is in its nascent stages.

Media reports have pegged Tumblr's 2012 revenue at $13 million. The privately held company, based in Manhattan, does not disclose its financial results.

Yahoo expects that Tumblr will help boost revenue by 2014, Ken Goldman, Yahoo's chief financial officer, said on a call with analysts. He did not provide specific numbers.

“Even if revenue was $100 million, it means Yahoo paid 10 times revenue,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis. “Ten times is what you pay to date the belle of the ball. It's on the outer bands of M&A.”

Yahoo could quickly boost Tumblr's revenue by combining the website with its own sales force, said Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser. Loading Tumblr up with banner ads risks alienating its users, however, and probably wouldn't provide a significant lift to Yahoo's overall revenue, he said.

“It's not clear that this deal will be favorable from a return-on-capital perspective,” Wieser said. “One billion [dollars] for one company is a big bet.”

Gillis and Wieser were contacted on Sunday after the deal was reported by the online publication All Things D.

Mayer, on the conference call, described the Tumblr deal as an exception and said Yahoo was not necessarily planning lots of similarly sized deals.

Yahoo is one of several companies that have coughed up considerable money for buzz-worthy start-ups that hold promise. Facebook bought the popular social media photo site Instagram for $1 billion last year. In 2006, Google paid $1.6 billion for YouTube.

Shares of Yahoo rose as much as 2 percent in early trading Monday, but later fell back. They were up 18 cents to $26.70 in late-morning dealings. Through Friday's close, the shares had risen 70 percent since Mayer became CEO.

Image issues

One question Yahoo may have to address is Tumblr's reputation as a home for pornographic blogs. At one point in 2009, about 80 percent of Tumblr's top sites had something to do with adult content. Today that number is closer to 5 percent, according to Quantcast data, but the image lingers.

Mayer said on the call that Yahoo's targeting tools would allow advertisers to zero in on specific demographics and content.

One area where Yahoo plans to ramp up advertising: Tumblr's dashboard, the main landing point, akin to a newsfeed.

Dealing with that and other issues may fall to David Karp, 26, who founded Tumblr in 2007 and will remain CEO.

Karp, a self-taught programmer who left high school in favor of home schooling, did not take part in Mayer's conference call. Media reports have suggested his take in the billion-dollar sale would top $200 million.

In a 2012 interview with The Guardian, Karp seemed to be less interested in money than in Tumblr's prominence.

“There are a lot of rich people in the world. There are very few people who have the privilege of getting to invent things that billions of people use,” he said.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7735
JPY
USD
107.03
GBP
USD
0.6155
CAD
USD
1.1011
INR
USD
60.954

Rates may not be current.