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Why Tumblr is no longer the "underdog" of social media

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Tumblr has officially gone mainstream.

The network, which made a name for itself as a quirky and offbeat blogging alternative, now reaches 120 million people and receives 15 billion page views every month, founder and CEO David Karp revealed Monday. While speaking at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Karp disclosed that Tumblr now powers 42 million blogs.

Karp attributed the network’s success to its intentional avoidance of standard blogging and social network features. Tumblr doesn’t allow users to make traditional comments or tag friends in their posts, and the site only recently added a private-messaging function.

“Commenting makes YouTube a horrible place,” he said at the conference, adding that being tagged in a Facebook photo could be just as unpleasant.

Karp that the company’s decision to remain in New York, far from their Silicon Valley contemporaries, made them an unlikely success.

It’s been really wonderful being the underdogs.

—David Karp

These days, however, Tumblr is less of a David and more of a Goliath. Its enormous userbase has helped its creators to instigate social change, especially concerning Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). Last week, when Tumblr gave users the option to black out their blogs in protest, 650,000 complied.

Together, we generated more than 140,000 calls to Senators, spent more than 4,200 hours on the phone with their staffers, and blacked out 650,000 of our blogs to make our point and inspire others to get involved.

—Tumblr staff member Rachel Webber.

Webber added that these actions were on top of the 90,000 calls Tumblr users sent their senators last month. Users averaged 3.6 calls per second.

Now, Karp said Tumblr’s next step will be to bring the community’s influence abroad. Currently 45 percent of its userbase is in the United States.

“[We will] try and filter our network in ways that are more appealing to a global market,” he said.

Photo by edans