Feature

Can you buy cool? Yahoo reportedly looking to purchase Tumblr

The platform beloved by fashion bloggers and try-hard newsweeklies alike is closing in on a $1 billion valuation

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to have it all, including getting 18-to-24-year-olds to think her company is cool. And lo and behold: Peter Kafka and Kara Swisher at All Things D report that Yahoo is in "serious talks" to partner with or buy what many adults consider the swaggiest hangout on that Internet thingamajig: Tumblr.

It's not the first time that Mayer has reportedly shown interest in "the New York-based hipster blogging service," as All Things D puts it. Only now Tumblr has climbed to a somewhat puzzling $1 billion valuation, and has shown — sometimes to a fault — that it's serious about becoming a "real business."

On one level, a deal would make sense. The tumbling platform beloved by fashion bloggers and try-hard newsweeklies alike is one of the Internet's most powerful wormholes, especially for the crucial 18-to-34-year-old demographic that advertisers drool over. Recent figures suggest visitors average about 1.5 hours per month on Tumblr, which hosts 90 million blogs that generate 89 million new posts every day.

Meanwhile, Yahoo has been trying to shed its reputation as an aimless and stodgy behemoth in decline, and to re-emerge as a focused and nubile tech butterfly. The New Yahoo has shown its willing to splurge on eye-catching startups with unproven track records, like when it purchased half-functioning news aggregator Summly from 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio for $30 million.

So should Yahoo buy Tumblr? CEO David Karp has struggled to translate Tumblr's less-is-more ethos into dollar signs, and famously annoyed users when the service began featuring ads in its dashboard in 2012. And as The Awl points out, Tumblr made just $13 million in 2012, "so $1,000,000,000 sounds totally natural."

For what it's worth, Facebook, which is showing some gray hairs of its own, is also considering a massive bid for Tumblr, and could snatch up the blogging platform before Yahoo can open its checkbook. Which means it's probably about time all those trendy Tumblr kids found somewhere else on the Internet to chillax.

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