The surprise of the past 24 hours or so for me has been that Automattic has taken over Tumblr.
Automattic are a huge contributor to the WordPress ecosystem and I do follow their fortunes and love at least three of their products as well as my long standing love of WordPress! Regular readers will know that two of their products WooCommerce and BuddyPress play key parts in the running of this website and I am also a big fan of their Akismet anti-spam product.
Tumblr used to be worth £Loads and estimates suggest that Automattic didn’t pay much more than about $20 Million now given that Yahoo bought Tumble for around $Billion then wow! I think we might finally be reaching the end of the road for ridiculously over priced internet and tech acquisitions.
I was surprised too that Auttomattic bought it. Automattic are hugely involved in WordPress and the WordPress.com environment and platform especially. They are going to switch Tumblr’s back end to WordPress and use a single API for the two products according to two big WordPress blogs I frequent regularly. There are times when I am not given to agreeing with Automattic or their CEO Matt Mullenweg (for example, I am not over the moon about the way that their Jetpack product has gone) but I think that this could be a very good and very shrewd move.
That then leaves us with two different blogging platforms which are services and WordPress.org which can host any type of website that the website owner, creator or developers wish to create and deliver. Lets leave this last one here and get back to WordPress.com and Tumblr.
What is the difference between the two platforms? Apart from the stuff most people will not see or experience, the stuff that makes things happen and some visual stuff not a lot really as all blogging platforms share some similarities. Where this gets more interesting is community. You see WordPress.com blogs are just that blogs that out there on the internet for all to see and engage with. Where Tumblr differs is that members are encourage to post, like and share blogs in a bit of Facebook type way which is good for building traction and readership. I know that I have had good results from clickthroughs to this site from Tumblr.
It may then indeed follow that if they can extend this sense of community from Tumblr to WordPress.com that owners WordPress.com blogs and sites will see an uptake in engagement with their sites but only time will tell.
There is an old and well debated argument that WordPress.com sites are worse for SEO than WordPress.org sites. Will this new sense of community change that with increased engagement ? No I don’t believe so.
As surprising as this acquisition is I do hope that Automattic can make a go of it and I would love to see the Tumblr sense of engaged community pop across the hall to WordPress.com