When Yahoo announced it was buying the blogging service Tumblr Monday, David Karp accomplished the unimaginable: He stole the spotlight from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
The 26-year-old Tumblr founder, who is estimated to make $250 million off of the $1.1 billion deal, may have been well known in the tech community and in New York gossip circles. But despite being the subject of multiple profiles and media snark, Karp is no Zuckerberg. Many people over the age of 30 still don't know what Tumblr is, and know even less about its CEO. Here's what you need to know about the tech world's biggest new star:
Like Zuckerberg, Karp never graduated from college, but he also never enrolled. Nor did he ever graduate from high school. He dropped out of The Bronx High School of Science, a highly regarded school in New York that has produced seven Nobel prize-winning physicists and six Pulitzer winners, calling it "a particularly driven environment." Karp's mother allowed him to be home-schooled after he seemed bored and to focus all his time on computers.
He could probably learn a thing or two about layoff announcements. In April, Karp announced in a blog post that he would be letting go his team of editors and journalists. But while its insensitivity was parodied and called out in several news publications, he apparently didn't write it. That honor fell to the ousted editor-in-chief who, Valleywag writes, sensed "a delicious way to tie Tumblr's shoes together before he departed."
He has quite the irreverent leadership style. First, there was the expletive-laden sign-off he used in announcing the Yahoo merger to his employees. Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting a great anecdote about how Karp shared the news with his employees:
"Karp's wry sense of humor remained intact on Monday morning, when all employees were summoned to a meeting in Tumblr's New York headquarters. Cognizant of media reports that Tumblr was on the verge of a sale, everyone waited with bated breath as Karp kicked off the meeting with a tongue-in-cheek announcement: It was time to formulate a new 'dog policy.'
'We have gone above and beyond with our dog policy," he told them. "There is now one dog for every five people in the office at Tumblr at any given time. So we are needing to figre out a better bathroom situation.' "
He hasn't always had a lot of patience for customers who complain. Wired reports that when a user emailed Tumblr amid some site issues, Karp copied his whole team on his reply, which said "we have no interest in customers that will go out of their way to discourage our entire team… Please go away."
Karp started coding when he was 11, was a chief technology officer at 17, and began Tumblr at 19. He gets fawning emails from Richard Branson and has advised President Obama's social media team. What more do you need to know?
Jena McGregor is a columnist for On Leadership.