The rumors of Verizon selling Tumblr turned out to have merit. Verizon (Engadget's parent company) is selling the social network to Automattic, the company behind the blogging tool WordPress. It's not disclosing the size of the deal, but Automattic is taking on 200 employees as part of the exchange. Automattic chief Matt Mullenweg told the Wall Street Journal that this is his company's largest acquisition both in terms of cost and sheer staff count.
And in case you're wondering: no, Automattic won't reverse the ban on adult content. He saw Tumblr as a companion to WordPress and "just fun."
It's a low-key end to a long, rough chapter in Tumblr's history. Yahoo bought the site in 2013 for a hefty $1.1 billion, but never really found a way to compete with the explosive growth of social networks like Instagram. Some features felt tacked on to seize on momentary trends. Yahoo would eventually write off about $230 million of the site's value in 2016, and things didn't improve when Verizon bought Yahoo. Its user base is still large with 475.1 million blogs, but it's not the force it was in its heyday.
And yes, some of that decline came directly from the decision to ban porn and other racy material from the site. It's unclear how much the fallout from 'cleaning' Tumblr affected the decision to sell the site, but it clearly didn't help. Automattic faces the challenge of persuading users that Tumblr can uphold that decision while getting a second lease on life.