Tumblr, a flailing social media site from a bygone era, may be run by a skeleton crew from now on. An alleged internal memo from parent company Automattic has made the rounds on social platforms (including Threads), stating it has “not gotten the expected results from our effort.” The decision appears to mark a sharp U-turn from a separate leak this summer, claiming Automattic was building a TikTok-like algorithmic feed into the aging site.
Although this doesn’t quite appear to be the end of the road for Tumblr, the note doesn’t sound promising for the platform’s future. It says “the majority of the 139 people” will switch to other Automattic projects, leaving a barebones gang of Trust & Safety and support workers to oversee Tumblr’s smoldering embers. Given how many brutal layoffs we’ve seen this year, handling the transition in a way that avoids job losses could be a silver lining.
Automattic, the company behind the blogging tool WordPress, acquired Tumblr in 2019 from Verizon, which landed the platform through its purchase of Yahoo! (Engadget’s parent company) in 2017. It likely didn’t help that its ownership turned into a game of musical chairs, and none of them seemed to find the right formula to get the microblogging network back on its feet. (Its controversial ban on adult content likely had something to do with that.)
“We are at the point where after 600+ person-years of effort put into Tumblr since the acquisition in 2019, we have not gotten the expected results from our effort, which was to have its revenue and usage above its previous peaks,” the alleged memo reads. After throwing in cliches about climbing mountains and being better to try and fail than not to try at all, the note claims the team’s next step is to “reflect and decide where else we should concentrate our energy together.”
Engadget reached out to Automattic for comment and confirmation but didn’t immediately receive a response. We’ll update this article if we hear back.
In addition to WordPress, Automattic’s other brands include the journaling app Day One, the e-commerce plugin WooCommerce, Gravatar and the note-taking app SimpleNote.