The History of Tumblr

Tumblr is yet to celebrate its tenth year anniversary, but it has gone a long way in terms of popularity, both as a social networking site and a blogging platform. Established in February 2007, Tumblr first hit the web as a Tumblelog, a platform described as a short form of blog and content curation.

But before we look into the history of Tumblr, it’s important to delve deeper on the origins of Tumblelogs. It may have become the most popular platform for tumblelog, Tumblr, however, is not the first platform as far as merging blogging and content curation is concerned.

Tumblelog’s history goes back to March 2005, when a German teenager named Chris Neukirchen established Anarchia, a website where people can scroll through pages with links to pull quotes, photos, blogs, and many other types of content. The only rule, though, is that editorial posts must be kept short, and in a paragraph format.

Anarchaia then inspired two young American programmers Marcel Molina and Sam Stephenson to create a tumblelog of their own, which they called the “Projectionist”.  It was a much more polished version of Anarchaia, but had better design and methods of organization. As described by Daily Dot, Projectionist had an extensive and thorough archive system that used thumbnails to preview each post.

The idea of creating tumblelog platforms went on to inspire Tumblr’s founder David Karp, who made the website along with programmer Marco Arment in February of 2007. “Everybody had this page you could just dump stuff on. And it was so much more beautiful than blogs at the time,” Karp said in an interview with Wired. “Tumblr started as something I wanted to use myself,” he added.

Upon creating Tumblr, Karp was still running his own consultancy called Davidville. However, he had to let go of his former company as their clients saw that they were put on the back seat, following the rapid growth and popularity of Tumblr.

Compared to the two previous Tumblelogs, Tumblr grew to be more visually appealing and has catered to more types of content as it grew. In less than a month after it was created, Tumblr garnered 75,000 users, and the number continued to rise, until it reached the pool of users it has today

Less than a year after it was created, Tumblr came to a point where it was publishing 10,000 posts every hour. It subsequently made managing and maintaining the website even more challenging, as it cost around $5,000 a month for its operation.

In order to keep it running, Karp pitched Tumblr to different investors. By October 2007, Karp had sold 25% of his company to Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures, and John Borthwick and Jakob Lodwick from Vimeo.

He was able to pull in $750,000, which subsequently valued the company at $3 million. As reported by The Guardian, Karp watched his employees range from less than 20 to almost a hundred occupying two floors of their office building. As of this writing, Tumblr has 402 employees in New York, Virginia, and Los Angeles.

Everything went smooth sailing, except for the occasional shut down by the site. One of the most major internet operation breakdowns for Tumblr happened in June 2010, when the website was unavailable for the entire weekend. The weekend pause enraged a lot of users around the world, but since then Tumblr has been meaning pick up the pieces from its momentary failure, and is now going strong.

Ever since it was launched in an apartment in Manhattan, Tumblr has gone a long way. It has also been passed to different owners. In June 2013, Yahoo succeeded in buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion. More recently, Tumblr was passed into the possession of that US telecommunication company,  Verizon, after it purchased Yahoo and its conglomerate companies.