Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Audio: My armchair analysis of Automattic acquiring Tumblr

Date recorded: August 19, 2019

Yesterday while driving (sorry for the audio quality) I recorded a quick audio bit to distill my thoughts on why Automattic acquired Tumblr.

Short-version: Automattic sees Tumblr as an entry point for new customers – especially youth. For someone to go from idea to full commerce or publishing success via’s current offering could seem cumbersome and not nearly as hip as Tumblr.

Listen to the audio bit for more details. We’ll see if I’m right in 5 years.

Links relevant to this audio bit:


manton says:

@cdevroe And if Automattic is successful at rebuilding the Tumblr backend on, they wouldn’t even need to ask users to “migrate” to WordPress. It might just happen.

simonwoods says:

@cdevroe @manton If they were to rebuild Tumblr in this way whilst maintaining the depth of free theme customisation and then replace their free offering with that… well, now we’re talking.

jasonekratz says:

@simonwoods @cdevroe @manton I’d prefer they not replace anything. free tier is a blogging and CMS, Tumblr as it stands right now isn’t close to that (and wasnt supposed to be). So I hope they dont change anything in that respect.

cdevroe says:

@jasonekratz @manton @simonwoods I believe when they say “replace with WordPress” wrt Tumblr, they mean the application layer only. It should be nearly invisible to end users if they do that, and allows them to maintain a single codebase, scaling processes, data layer, etc.

manton says:

@cdevroe @jasonekratz @simonwoods Ah, I was imagining that they would replace almost everything except the Tumblr dashboard. So blog settings, themes, posts would be WordPress. Discovery, following users, posting UI would look like Tumblr, but you could view the same blog on the side too. Guess we’ll find out in a couple years! 🙂

cdevroe says:

@manton @jasonkratz @simonwoods It will be interesting to see how they do it. I think WP could run most of Tumblr’s underpinnings. But I’m unsure about the themes – there are so many different customized Tumblogs… it would take a very long time to make the transition invisible. They have their work cut out for them.

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