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WHAT THE KIDS WANT

Yahoo’s grand plan for Tumblr was to turn it into a “next-generation PDF”

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, left, and Tumblr Chief Executive David Karp, center, speak after a news conference Monday, May 20, 2013, in New York. Yahoo edged up 31 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $26.83 after the Internet company said it was buying online blogging forum Tumblr for $1.1 billion. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Just smile and nod.
By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer bought Tumblr for a cool billion dollars in 2013, the move was both flashy and symbolic: Yahoo, a relic of the early internet age, showed it could be hip with the times by embracing a social platform loved by millennials.

But Yahoo execs just didn’t get Tumblr. In a colorful story published today (June 15) about Tumblr’s life after acquisition, Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman reveals that the company’s top brass hoped to turn Tumblr into a “next generation PDF.”

Tumblr CEO David Karp reported to Yahoo’s Simon Khalaf, founder of the analytics platform Flurry (also acquired by Yahoo). In an anecdote from an unnamed former employee, Khalaf walked into one team meeting about Tumblr saying the popular blogging platform was “going to be the new PDF.”

“It didn’t make any sense,” the employee recounted. “We’d walk away scratching our heads.”

In the end, it became clear that Yahoo simply didn’t know what to do with its new prize. Mayer had set an arbitrary but lofty revenue goal of $100 million that the unit failed to meet in 2015. In February this year, the company admitted having hugely overvalued Tumblr, writing down its value by $230 million.

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