New York Gets Billion Dollar Exit With Tumblr

Tumblr, Yahoo, David Karp, Marissa Mayer, Acquisition, Exit

Tumblr founder David Karp onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 (photo: K. Sandler for

This was the big startup news all weekend. At the end of last week, rumors started bubbling up via AllthingsD suggesting that Yahoo, and it’s new powerhouse CEO Marissa Mayer was looking for their biggest startup acquisition to date. That startup was Tumblr.

Last week we started hearing that Yahoo was prepared to buy Tumblr for $1 billion dollars. Many tech and startup pundits suggested that Facebook may try and jump in and swallow up Tumblr before the Yahoo board could get together Sunday and vote on the acquisition. Facebook reportedly, never made an offer.

In case you’ve been living out in the wilderness without internet access, Tumblr is a microblogging platform. They have over 100 million monthly visitors and see over 90 million posts made per day.  Unlike the 140 character restriction on Twitter, people posting to Tumblr can write longer formatted posts and include pictures, videos etc.

Coincidentally Tumblr, and it’s founder David Karp, were the subjects of my most widely read story ever in my career is a “blogger”. Tumblr is just that popular.

Karp has been swatting off offers to buy Tumblr almost since it’s inception. Celebrities like Lady Gaga and others, flocked to Tumblr to add to their social media strategies. In fact GaGa actually posts on her own Tumblr, whereas her Facebook page is updated by a social media team.

The Wall Street Journal, and several other credible sources, have said that Yahoo’s board approved a $1.1 billion dollar acquisition of Tumblr. Many sources speculate that Mayer, a 13 year veteran of Google, hopes that Tumblr will be Yahoo’s YouTube.  It’s also been reported that, for now, Tumblr will operate as it’s own business unit, and continue to be based in New York.

There are no solid revenue numbers for Tumblr reported online. What has been reported is that the startup, that was founded in Karp’s mom’s small New York apartment in 2007, has raised $125 million in venture capital and at one point Karp sold 25% of the company for$750,000. It’s unclear how much Karp still owns today.

Karp, along with girlfriend Rachel Eakley, a grad student and chef, lived in a modest west village apartment until last year when they moved into a $1.6 million dollar loft in West Brooklyn. Karp dropped out of high school, finishing up his education on his own and then moved to Japan where he coded for a living.

There’s no official word of how long Karp will remain with the company.

New York even has a ping pong startup!



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