Yahoo! is buying Tumblr it seems, and there's nothing we can do about it.
Media companies (like Yahoo!, NewsCorp., Google) often look at the acquisition of large platforms with millions of users as an opportunity to grab a wider audience for themselves. Rarely do they give much back to the company providing said audience. Sure, the most recent buyouts are too young to take into account (Google buying YouTube, Facebook buying Instagram), but most of the older internet acquisitions have followed this path and essentially found the situation wanting.
Often, the problem is if these big companies can't monetize, they don't know what to do with the product, which means they do one of two things. They let the product languish until it's on the verge of death and then they shut it down. Or, it's sold for a lot less than a company paid for it. The good news? Yahoo! can learn from these mistakes and give Tumblr a fighting chance.
|Yahoo! buys Flickr|
In 2003 Flickr was the best photo sharing site out there. You could share and tag photos, making it its own mini social network pre-Facebook and pre-Instagram. It offered free online photo storage. In 2005 Flickr was sold to Yahoo! because the then-married couple running Flickr believed it'd be a good idea, and it was, for a bit.
Even though it succeeded for the first couple of years, Flickr eventually failed under Yahoo! As reporter Mat Honan writes in his article on Gizmodo titled "How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost The Internet", Yahoo! bought Flickr to add a free image directory to their site, not to help Flickr blossom into the possible social network it could've been.
So where did Yahoo! go wrong? They took too long to get Flickr to mobile and social. "It never became the Flickr of video; YouTube snapped that ring. It never became the Flickr of people, which was of course Facebook. It remained the Flickr of photos. At least, until Instagram came along," Honan writes.
|Yahoo! buys GeoCities|
Yahoo! bought GeoCities in 1999 for $3.6 billion. GeoCities was the third most visited property on the internet at the time, but Yahoo! couldn't find a way to turn a profit from it. Like most new apps and online platforms, the traffic is there but the revenue is not. And, of course, when MySpace and Facebook came around GeoCities' users dropped (15.6 million users left in 2008, and 11.5 million left a year later). Yahoo! closed GeoCities in 2009.
|AOL buys Time Warner Cable|
This seemed like a good idea at the time; two big media companies merging at the start of the new millennium. AOL bought TWC for $360 billion in 2000.
The downfall happened when AOL didn't give up its dial-up internet access at a time when everybody was switching to high-speed services.
|Ebay buys Skype|
Ebay bought Skype in 2005 for $2.6 billion. They thought auctioneers and buyers would like to talk about their transactions. They were so wrong. People don't like to talk to -- let alone see -- the face of the person selling you an NSFW Under-The-Bed-Restraint-System kit.
|NewsCorp buys MySpace|
NewsCorp bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million. In 2006 MySpace hit its peak at 100 million users. Three years later Facebook took over the title as "most visited social network site." In 2011 NewsCorp sold MySpace for a mere $35 million to an ad company called Specific Media.