Yahoo, Tumblr and the creativity-failure nexus

May 20, 2013

Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:

This Feb. 20, 2013 file image released by NBC shows Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appearing on NBC News' "Today" show, in New York to introduce the website's redesign. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer, file)
This Feb. 20, 2013 file image released by NBC shows Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appearing on NBC News’ “Today” show, in New York to introduce the Web site’s redesign. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer, file)

1)  Yahoo confirmed the $1.1 billion deal to acquire micro-blogging site Tumblr in a press release on the company’s Web site Monday, promising not to “screw it up”:

“Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business. David Karp will remain CEO. The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.”

Mayer posted the announcement to her Tumblr page, basically repeating the press release, but with an animated gif. Tumblr CEO David Karp posted the news on his Tumblr account as well, assuring users that the companies “won’t let you down,” also writing:

“Before touching on how awesome this is, let me try to allay any concerns: We’re not turning purple. Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing.”

Posts from both executives carried the shared message their companies seek to “make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas.”

In this Oct. 1, 2012 file photo, Tumblr founder David Karp participates in the "Bloomberg Leadership Summit" seminar in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes/Invision for Advertising Week)
In this Oct. 1, 2012 file photo, Tumblr founder David Karp participates in the “Bloomberg Leadership Summit” seminar in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes/Invision for Advertising Week)

But Tumblr’s large, youth-dominated (and, as a result, highly-coveted) user base is apprehensive at best and downright angry at worst over the deal. At least one Tumblr user has established guidelines for what changes should compel Tumblr users to abandon the platform, and as Time’s Sam Gustin writes, “Tumblr users have good reason to be apprehensive, because Yahoo’s track record with acquisitions has been decidedly mixed.”

According to Gustin, the acquisition, with its $1.1 billion price tag, is a big gamble for Mayer, while Forbes contributor Peter Cohan writes that it’s “bad news for Yahoo shareholders,” failing “four tests of a successful acquisition.” Included on his list is that Yahoo is overpaying (although another Forbes contributor, Steven Rosenbaum, disagrees).

There’s a lot of emphasis being placed on creativity and on not screwing it up (i.e. failing) with this acquisition. But failure and creativity are long-time bedfellows. So it’s a bit hard to see how Yahoo and Tumblr will be creative in leveraging their newly-established relationship to develop and improve on opportunities for users to be creative while not failing some in the process.

2) The New Yorker’s innovation issue has come and gone, and at least one New Yorker reader didn’t like it—really, really didn’t like it. But comedian Mindy Kaling’s proposed invention, “The Kiss Monitor (TM)”, which she describes as “how marital fidelity will work in the future,” is an amusing don’t-miss among the more robust pieces on cybersecurity and alternative energy and online learning.

3) A cinematic innovation summit is coming to Dubai, report’s Variety’s Nick Vivarelli. The summit is being launched by the Dubai International Film Festival, and will have its first convening on Dec. 5 and 6. Vivarelli writes that the event “is being described as a dynamic mix of symposium, film festival and interactive space for cutting-edge works and technologies.”

4) How often have you heard this before?

“You don’t have to kill yourself – working ever longer hours, with no family time, and constantly pushing yourself – to have a good work-life balance.”

Well, The Guardian’s Louise Chunn writes that Rainmaking co-founder Martin Bjergegaard has the secret.

5) And, last but not least, is a sort of mood-ring desk lamp called Clyde:

Clyde responds to user’s touch, changing color, and is suited with bendable legs, allowing users to attach it to other objects in unique ways. The lamp’s makers are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. (Psfk)

 

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Dominic Basulto | May 17, 2013