David Karp in LA Times: ‘We’re pretty opposed to advertising’
In the wake of a sudden flurry of Tumblr press that appeared this morning, I followed a hyperlink trail through several recent articles and landed on this one. (Click through for a quick read). I know we all complain about certain elements of Tumblr - from Tumblarity to the HA500 error code - but I think it’s important to remember how much better Tumblr is than (most of) the rest of the Internet. Despite an increase in the number of kids and total n00bz using the service it’s good to know how much Karp et al value the quality of content that can be found all over this place.
One reason may be that the Tumblr team are a lot alike the prominent quality bloggers - young, creative, good at computers, seemingly hip, sarcastic and playful tech-heads, able to appreciate the very things that these users create. The fact that they want to use this as one way to monetize Tumblr is not only quite original and generous but a very plausible method of generating revenue, not only for Tumblr but for the creators who might otherwise be used to giving their content away for free. As much as I like getting things for free, I really do believe in paying for stuff.
That may seem like an absurd thing to say but in the current economic climate free Internet culture thrives and designers/writers/musicians/filmmakers and everyone else with something to give have become used to working for nothing. Maybe they have day jobs and create this stuff in their free time but that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to earn from their work. (Just to clarify, I’m not talking about making money from blogging, that’s pretty ridiculous. I’m talking about the people who create art that you could hang on your wall or put on your iPod and the people who spend hours coding cool stuff for us all to use.)
Tumblr itself is funded by various investors and it would have been all too easy for them to begin making money through the ubiquitous and obvious method of advertising. I don’t think they’re being naive by avoiding that route, rather showing their knowledge of the more influential section of the Tumblr community - the big-time bloggers; the developers and designers and entrepreneurs that they can associate with so well. So instead of subjecting that demographic (and the rest of us) to ads, they recruited several of them to create Premium Themes - something that is quite unnecessary with the fantastic Theme Garden, but it’s there if you want it. It’s great that they have the freedom to experiment with paid services and even better that they don’t shove them down your throat. Everybody kicked off when they put the t-shirts in the sidebar so it’s quite clear that we’d all rather stick with our simple, beautiful dashboards and Tumblr seemed to take notice, which is nice.
Uh, tl;dnr. This post has ended in a different place than it started but the gist is pretty much <3 u Tumblr!