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

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

The Brexit slowdown is real

As Europe surges ahead, the UK is enduring its worst economic growth for five years. 

The recession that the Treasury and others forecast would follow the EU referendum never came. But there is now unmistakable evidence of an economic slowdown. 

Growth in the second quarter of this year was 0.3 per cent, which, following quarter one's 0.2 per cent, makes this the worst opening half since 2012. For individuals, growth is now almost non-existent. GDP per capita rose by just 0.1 per cent, continuing the worst living standards recovery on record. 

That Brexit helped cause the slowdown, rather than merely coincided with it, is evidenced by several facts. One is that, as George Osborne's former chief of staff Rupert Harrison observes, "the rest of Europe is booming and we're not". In the year since the EU referendum, Britain has gone from being one of the west's strongest performers to one of its weakest. 

The long-promised economic rebalancing, meanwhile, is further away than ever. Industrial production and manufacturing declined by 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively, with only services (up 0.5 per cent) making up for the shortfall. But with real wage growth negative (falling by 0.7 per cent in the three months to May 2017), and household saving at a record low, there is limited potential for consumers to continue to power growth. The pound's sharp depreciation since the Brexit vote has cut wages (by increasing inflation) without producing a corresponding rise in exports. 

To the UK's existing defects – low productivity, low investment and low pay – new ones have been added: political uncertainty and economic instability. As the clock runs down on its departure date, Britain is drifting towards Brexit in ever-worse shape. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.