Uncertain future for Tumblr

Kudos to Matt Mullenweg for making public the internal memo about the future of Tumblr. It seems they’ll pivot to a smaller team, acknowledging that maybe Tumblr can’t be competitive with other massive social networks, but could do just fine as a more niche platform:

We are shifting from the mode of “surging” on Tumblr with tons of people to get it to exciting growth, to working on how we can run Tumblr in the most smooth and efficient manner. Pretty amazing things in the social and messaging space have been accomplished with small teams, so I’m actually quite curious to see a smaller and more focused Tumblr’s performance in 2024.

I’m a little confused about what Tumblr has been up to in the four years since the acquisition. Automattic had ambitious plans both for ActivityPub and to rebuild the foundation of Tumblr on WordPress. But there are a lot of smaller things they could do, like add support for IndieWeb standards Micropub and Webmention, simple protocols that are straightforward to implement.

Even so, Automattic is a great home for Tumblr. Social networks come and go, but I expect Tumblr to be with us in some form for years. It still has a lot of potential.

Manton Reece @manton