📸 Is Tumblr rising again? - The Hustle
The Hustle

📸 Is Tumblr rising again?

Florida, responsible for 90% of US orange juice production, is on track to fill 44.5m 90-lb boxes with oranges this year — the smallest harvest since 1945. Futures for frozen concentrated orange juice are now up some 50% since the pandemic started.

Today’s rundown:

  • Throwback: Gen Z is bringing Tumblr back from the dead.
  • (App)le: How much money does the App Store bring in?
  • Rebundle: The startup making hair extensions out of plants.
  • Around the web: Making GIFs, pretending to be busy, and more fun internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The big idea

Is Tumblr on the road back to relevance?

Zuck and team have undoubtedly spent many a meeting trying to figure out how to capture Gen Z eyeballs.

Tumblr, the long-forgotten microblogging platform, seems to have figured it out. According to Kyle Chayka at The New Yorker, Gen Z now makes up 61% of Tumblr’s new users, leading to a resurgence for the platform.

Tumblr launched in 2007…

… coinciding with the mass adoption of smartphones. This gave a new generation of amateur photographers a place to curate images before the emergence of Instagram.

The platform embraced a multimedia approach, including text, images, GIFs, and videos, which helped it become a “petri dish of Internet quirkiness,” per Chayka.

Tumblr’s rise and subsequent downfall were swift:

  • In 2013, Yahoo acquired the platform for $1.1B on the strength of 73m users
  • In 2019, after years of failing to generate ad revenue, WordPress bought it for $3m

So why does Gen Z dig it?

Seemingly for what it’s not — mainstream social media.

The open-ended nature of Tumblr is part of its appeal, along with other differentiators from mainstream social, including:

  • A chronological feed that isn’t driven by an attention maximizing algorithm
  • A noticeable absence of influencers and brands
  • A welcome distraction from the real world due to its undated feed and pseudonymous accounts

The differences extend to Tumblr’s monetization strategy

Rather than pursue programmatic feeds, Tumblr is focused on tailored campaigns for streaming clients like Disney and Netflix that have pockets of devout fans on the platform.

Revenue is up 55% since July, which may not sound like much, but for a platform that was pronounced dead a few years ago, it’s a great start on the path back to relevance.

The true sign that Tumblr has made it back? When Zuck and Co. start ripping off Tumblr — instead of everyone else.

SNIPPETS

Recycled undies? Yep. D2C underwear company Parade’s new recycling program turns gently used undergarments into insulation, bedding, and more. #ecommerce-retail

Dragon roof: When completed, Google’s new Bay View campus will contain 90k overlapping solar tiles, a design known as “dragonscale.” #clean-energy

Choo choo: A trio of former SpaceX engineers are building autonomous electric freight train cars to reduce emissions and increase shipping efficiency. #emerging-tech

Canadian password manager 1Password recently raised $620m and is now valued at $6.8B. #privacy

Google has scrapped YouTube Originals after 6 years. Many of its scripted projects, including “Cobra Kai,” have already found homes elsewhere. #big-tech

The Hustle’s Trung Phan explains Netflix’s approach. It’s about managing creative people while scaling fast. #hustle-picks

(App)le

The App Store is almost 14 years old. It’s big

Just 30 days after Steve Jobs introduced the App Store in 2008, there were 1.5k apps available and users had downloaded them 60m+ times.

Remember, the iPhone was introduced the year prior, in 2017, when Apple’s total revenue was $24.6B.

As of last year, Apple has doled out $260B to developers through the App Store. That growth is what we in the biz call “absolutely nuts.”

It’s also why lawsuits frequently spring up against the “Apple Tax,” or Apple’s practice of taking 15%-30% in app commissions — and more will surely come.

(Wanna step back in time for a sec? Check out Jobs introducing the App Store in this clip.)

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Better Braids

Rebundle makes sustainable hair extensions out of plants

Rebundle, a St. Louis-based D2C hair startup, just scored $1.4m to make extensions out of banana fiber. It’s a unique solution that tackles 2 problems: itchy scalps and plastic waste.

The issue with extensions

Rebundle co-founder and CEO Ciara Imani May told Essence that she started wearing braids frequently as she grew her hair out, but the synthetic extensions made her scalp burn and itch.

Plus, she didn’t like the plastic waste. So in 2021, she launched Rebundle with co-founder and CMO Danielle Washington.

And Rebundle is bananas

Banana fiber, that is, and other plant-based materials. Whereas synthetic hair would have to be intentionally recycled, Rebundle is biodegradable and compostable.

Packs come in several colors, from black to pink, and last ~6 weeks. At $20-$30 per 3.5-ounce pack, Rebundle is pricier than synthetic brands, which retail for $3-$10 per pack, per Vogue.

But they’re not as expensive as human hair extensions, and have been selling out quickly.

Rebundle will use the funding to build a local manufacturing facility…

… which is pretty rare. May told The Hustle that most facilities are located in Asia, “far from the primary consumers and out of touch with our needs.”

Rebundle’s US facility allows the company to provide opportunities in communities where hair extensions are widely known and used, while increasing its control over quality and safety.

Fun fact: Rebundle also recycles used extensions. To date, Rebundle has collected ~235 pounds of plastic hair.

AROUND THE WEB

🧪 On this day: In 2008, the 1st episode of “Breaking Bad” aired on AMC. The crime drama would go on to win 16 Emmys out of 58 nominations.

🎥 Useful: This site lets you make a GIF from your webcam or video files.

🍄 That’s interesting: Do you love mushrooms or hate them? It might come down to texture, which has a huge impact on how we perceive food and, increasingly, the alternative meat industry.

🐝 Haha: Wow, look how many friends I have! Can’t you hear how busy I am? Or maybe I’m just using this “Busy Simulator” site.

🤓 How to: Upskilling can help companies retain employees by providing them with new opportunities. Harvard Business Review has tips for implementing such a program.

🐎 Aww: And now, a little pony plays with a ball.

Chart of the day

Tumblr’s resurgence is just the latest in what’s been a wild ride. (Source: Chartr)

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