Is Tumblr on the road back to relevance?

Gen Z makes up 61% of Tumblr’s new users, leading to a resurgence for the microblogging platform.

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.

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