Yahoo buys Tumblr

Part of a wider trend.

Internet giant Yahoo has now announced the purchase of blogging site Tumblr in a $1.1bn (£720m) deal. At a press conference, former Google executive and current Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer announced the news in New York’s Times Square, following a meeting with the Yahoo board on Sunday.

Launched from the bedroom of founder David Karp in 2007, Tumblr today boasts 110m users, a similar number to those using Yahoo’s services, and currently hosts 42m blogs on its site. A success story since day one, within a fortnight of its launch, 75,000 bloggers were already logging on regularly.

This acquisition is the latest attempt by Yahoo to shore up its business, having lost much of the market share of its core search business. Once a leading search engine and web portal in the US, Yahoo is attempting to diversify its product offering, following the erosion of several of its products by the rise and rise of rivals Google and Facebook.

Tumblr will give the organisation access to a thriving user base and hopefully steady the ship, after a stormy few years for Yahoo, which has seen six different executives in the top job since 2009, and the workforce cut by 2,000 in 2012. The purchase of the blogging site, plus social news platform Snip.it in January, signal Mayer’s intention to grow through acquisitions.

It marks a wider trend in the technology industry, which has seen a number of large players competing to snap up fast-growing internet start-ups, giving them access to a rapidly expanding user base and new means of communication with their customers.

Mayer has certainly made an impact since her appointment in July 2012, cutting Yahoo’s products from around 60 to just a core of around a dozen, plus a strict new hiring process and the outlawing of working from home. Criticism and praise have been heaped on her in equal measure, but this latest deal could make or break her time at the top, with industry analysts questioning how a company can pay $1.1bn cash for Tumblr, having recorded just £13m in sales in 2012.

Photograph: Getty Images

Mark Brierley is a group editor at Global Trade Media

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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.