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Yahoo CEO on Tumblr: ‘We are not going to screw this up’

Marissa Mayer Yahoo Tumblr NYC

In addition to announcing the new Flickr redesign today, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer addressed several other developments the company is currently undergoing. Accompanied by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayer announced that Yahoo will be opening a New York headquarters at the Times Square Building at 229 West 43rd Street. It’s the same building that was once known as the New York Times building, marking a symbolic shift from old to new media.

“Yahoo’s move here into Times Square is a sign of the Times (pun intended) … New media is growing in our city and it’s revolutionizing the city,” Bloomberg says, noting that the New York-based Tumblr has also played a huge role in his administration’s social expansion. “The first time I heard of Tumblr was the first time we’ve used it. They’ve helped us build a better New York.”

new Flickr NYC campaignMayer clarified that only Yahoo employees will be moving into the new headquarters; The Tumblr crew will remain downtown in its Flatiron office, and the two brands will continue to operate independently. Yahoo does not aim to change or restrict the way Tumblr content is generated, and instead allowing it to grow organically as it has in the past. “We are not going to screw this up,” Mayer reiterates. “Tumblr has a good thing going … and we want them to continue the success they already have.” Instead, she says the Yahoo-Tumblr merger should be mutually beneficial to both parties. With more than 300 million monthly Tumblr users, the combination with Yahoo’s user base is estimated to boost its audience to a global level at more than one billion monthly users. 

Mayer does hint at a possibility of a Flickr integration with Tumblr, and notes that Yahoo will implement its copyright system to make sure all content are at least attributed appropriately. “We respect copyright, so we have systems for identifying copyrighted content where needed,” she says, noting that attribution is an important facet for both Flickr and Tumblr content. While it’s not going to actively restrict unrated content on Tumblr, Mayer does say Yahoo will continue to promote Tumblr’s Not Safe For Work functionality to prevent users from stumbling upon unwanted material. As far as anyone’s concerned, both companies will stay the way they are now – just with an increased audience. “Our users tend to skew slightly older, and Tumblr has the youngest demo of any site on the Web,” she says, which is why combining the companies to work together makes sense.

As for monetization methods, Mayer says advertisements will be an end result of the Yahoo-Tumblr merger, but the teams will see it as an opportunity to increase engagement with an enhanced user experience. Exactly who will want to post ads next to unrated Tumblr content is another question all its own.

All in all, what’s Mayer’s plan for making sure Yahoo doesn’t do with Tumblr what it did with Flickr? Better communication. “All companies come down to people. David [Karp] and I have a very clear understanding,” she says, having learned from the Flickr experience what worked and more importantly, what didn’t. “When we look at major companies merges like YouTube and Google, eBay and Paypal, we find that the companies work better when they’re growing fast and working independently.”