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Verizon is looking to sell Tumblr after squandering its potential

Verizon is seeking a buyer for Tumblr, the blogging platform it acquired along with other Yahoo assets in 2017. The Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon has approached other companies in recent weeks that could be potential new homes for Tumblr. The platform hosts 465.4 million blogs and 172 billion posts, according to its about page. The Journal notes that the sale process “is ongoing” and might not result in any transaction.

Late last year, Tumblr took the controversial step of banning porn on its platform; the company has been using AI to detect and automatically block images and videos that contain certain adult content. Existing posts containing porn were made private and are no longer publicly accessible. The move resulted in harsh criticism towards the company and a steep decline in web traffic, but Tumblr has given no indication that it plans to reverse its decision.

Tumblr itself was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013 during the Marissa Mayer era as an attempt to revitalize and steer new, younger users to the sinking internet staple. But Yahoo never really knew what to do with Tumblr, and the micro-blogging site — a showcase for some of the weirdest, best things on the internet — did nothing to reverse Yahoo’s business fortunes.

Verizon finalized its $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo in 2017, which led to it taking ownership of Tumblr. Tumblr is currently part of Verizon Media Group (formerly Oath), the umbrella brand for digital properties that Verizon ultimately controlled after its two buyouts of AOL and Yahoo. The Journal notes that Verizon’s attempt to offload Tumblr comes as it tries to make the best of its collective media business after a $4.6 billion writedown last year, which was essentially an acknowledgement that both deals had been a mistake.

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