Verizon may sell Tumblr to Pornhub, irony ensues

In mid-March, it was reported social media platform Tumblr lost 84 million users after it purged all of its adult content. Now, the service’s parent company Verizon is looking to sell it off. As it happens, a well-known pornography site is the application’s most interested suitor. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

A Lust for Corporate Synergy

On May 2, the Wall Street Journal reported the telecommunications giant approached other firms about acquiring the microblogging site. Verizon spent weeks looking to offload its once thriving social network, but no takers emerged. However, once the corporation’s interest in selling its social segment off went public, an interested party spoke up; Pornhub.

After the Journal’s story went live, Buzzfeed News reported Corey Price, Pornhub’s vice president, expressed interest in buying the depreciated blog portal. “There are obvious synergies between the two brands and value Pornhub could derive from Tumblr,” said the tasteful executive.

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Price also noted restoring the application’s porn stockpile would be a priority if an acquisition deal was made. The adult entertainment streaming service isn’t publicly traded, so its financial status is unknown. Forbes states the company generated $460 million in revenue in 2015.

Tumblr’s Protracted Downfall

Though its possible new owner’s market value is opaque, Tumblr’s economic situation is transparent and quite dire.

Founded in 2007, the platform gradually attracted a large audience of artists, socially conscious young people, and hard-working pornographers. By 2011, the company had 13 million unique monthly users and was valued at $800 million. A year later, the firm generated $13 million in ad revenue and planned to bring in $100 million in 2013.

The corporation didn’t end up bringing itself into financial maturity that year. Instead, Yahoo bought it for $1.1 billion. The flagging search engine sought to monetize the portal’s substantial and young user base but couldn’t figure out how. When Verizon purchased Yahoo in 2017, the telecom giant envisioned a new path for its social media subsidiary.

The conglomerate wanted to turn Tumblr into a media distribution platform and its user base into loyal consumers. To do that, Verizon demanded the firm purge its vast reservoir of not safe for work content. The carrier intended to make the application more advertiser-friendly but it ended up chasing away 20 percent of its audience.

With its other media segments failing to turn a profit, the mobility concern has apparently decided to cut bait. Verizon hasn’t yet announced plans to divest itself of its other media assets, AOL or Yahoo. But given their consistent underperformance and its attempted sale of Tumblr, an imminent fire sale is conceivable.

The technology company won’t fetch a large sum for its three wayward media brands. Years of stagnation and incompetent leadership have greatly reduced their market value. Plus, it’s hard to imagine which porn streaming service would want to buy AOL or Yahoo.

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