David Karp,the creator of Tumblr, was born in 1986 and proved to be a very smart child. He grew interested in computer software and coding at a very young age. At age fourteen, he became an intern at Frederator Studios, a cartoon animation studio. He helped create, design and produce their first internet video network. At age seventeen, Karp designed an online parenting site, UrbanBaby, in a matter of hours, a feat that should have taken weeks. When the site was sold to CNET in 2006, he used his earning to create his very own software consulting company, Davidville, with Marco Arment. In 2006, the two found themselves without clients and, in the span of two weeks, Karp designed Tumblr. The site was launched in February 2007 and it immediately took off. David Karp used a combination of WordPress, Blogger, Flickr and Youtube’s best features in order to make it the platform Karp had envisioned. After a few revisions, the blog site was sleek and avoided cluttered pages. “Tumblr is the place to find the most aspiring and talented creators in the world… we realized that [the users] is what our mission was about” (Plunkett). In May of 2013, Karp sold Tumblr to Yahoo! for $1.1 billion though he would remain CEO. Over the years, Tumblr made a few changes over the years, with some slight urging from the public, but unfortunately, most of Tumblr’s negative feedback from users arose after the site was sold to Yahoo.
David Karp’s Start-Up Story
In early 2009, Tumblr introduced a way to block users. This feature allowed people to block those from showing up on their feed. Karp introduced it after a dispute between one of his friends and two users who had been harassing her. The change had been long awaited by other users and is relatively simple to understand and implement. Before the change, comments were not moderated. Those who used Tumblr would be unable to block any rude comments or posts aimed at them. In relation to most sites, Tumblr gave users the ability to ban others from their feed, instead of running to moderators to ban the users completely from the site. This censorship option was highly praised by many bloggers on the site but Karp and the controversy behind the reasoning for the block were highly criticized. On article from The Gawker, a gossip blog, claimed the block was only set up so Karp did not have to “get involved in his friends’ hysterical fits over people reading and commenting on things they publish on the Internet”.
In 2012, the Stop Online Piracy Act, SOPA, was introduced to the U.S House of Representatives. Under the bill, the government would give U.S law enforcement the ability to “combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods” (Wikipedia). Essentially, what this means is that U.S law enforcement would be able to take down an entire website if even only one part of the site violates copyright laws. The bill would not rely on the site moderators to remove the copyrighted material and many thought it would hinder their free speech while online. The bill would also ban linking to offending sites and, because Tumblr is more than ten percent porn, would not bode well for the site. This bill was particularly bad news for Tumblr because some of its users had a bad habit of removing credit from pictures and videos and reposting copyrighted material as their own. January 1st, may companies including Google, On January 18th, 2012, Tumblr and seventeen other sites blacked out their websites for twenty four hours in a form of protest against the site. “By the following day, eighteen of the 100 senators, including eleven of the original sponsors of the PIPA bill, had announced that they no longer supported” (Wikipedia) the bill. This meant that the bill would be placed on hold but was “indefinitely shelved” (Wikipedia).
In a less positive form of censorship, in early July of 2013, Yahoo! Announced that it would be purging Tumblr of all of its adult and ‘not safe for work’, NSFW, content. A quick study revealed that at least 10% of all blogs, or about 12 million blogs, on Tumblr is porn so the content purge was highly unfavorable. Not twenty four hours after the purge, Karp released another announcement withdrawing the content ban. Instead, he made a ‘Safe Mode’ option available while searching for blogs and posts so adult content would not come up. After users complained once more about the announcement, Tumblr simply made it possibly to flag your blog or another user’s blog as NSFW, which meant that anything they posted would not show up while searching in Safe Mode. While all of these ‘improvements’ were made regarding the Tumblr site, the Tumblr application for smart phones was handled much differently. Many tags were blocked completely from the app and would not provide results when searched for. This upset some users because words such as ‘#depression’ and, for a few weeks, #LGBT did not produce results. Many users were upset by this but so far, Yahoo has refused to change their stance on the matter. With Karp’s help, the Tumblr team is able to quickly provide solutions and satisfy over 153.4 million blogs.
According to Tumblr, as of December 14tth, 2013, Tumblr hosts over 158.1 million blogs with over 70 billion blog posts and those numbers continue to grow every day. Since their opening in 2007, they have gained over 158 million blogs, or over 26 million users a year. The company has 217 employees and has over $125 million in funding from many investors. In 2012, the sire began advertising but it is relatively cheap to advertise, leading to a large rise in profits over the course of the year. Karp and his team continue to interact frequently with Tumblr users but it is unclear what other changes Yahoo will make to the site, though Yahoo promised users their company would try “not to screw it up”.