There are two stages to this gambit by Yahoo that must be accomplished. They have to beat out Facebook, Microsoft, and anybody else interested in the 10-digit price that Tumblr is likely to fetch in the coming days. Then, they have to let the site be as it is and make no changes at all to the platform.
The Swisher/Kafka tandem over at AllThingsD have reported that the Yahoo board is going to meet this weekend to discuss buying the social blogging platform for a reported $1.1 billion in cash.
Sources said that the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s CEO Marissa Mayer has decided that buying Tumblr was going to be “the stake in the ground of what her strategy is going forward for Yahoo.”
They can’t miss on this one. They can’t let anyone out bid them, out maneuver them, or in any way hamper this path. It’s out there now. It’s public. For them to miss on this opportunity would be another stake in the coffin that has been haunting Yahoo since their first big blunder when they didn’t let Microsoft buy them. No, they’re not on the verge of death, but they’re closing in on irrelevance a la AOL. This could change that.
The fact that it’s the worst kept secret in tech going into the weekend means that they’re either really close and want to get the buzz machine going or that they have a legitimate leak that shouldn’t be letting this type of information out until the deal is done. A loss on this one would be a major blow. They need something big like this. They need a victory. They need to be criticized for the move by some and praised by others. By making this move, they’ll remind everyone that they still have one of the most visible sites on the internet, that they have a rising star at CEO, and that they still have the clout to pull off something that Facebook or Google could do – a billion dollar acquisition.
The second part is equally important. They can’t botch this. In the past, they’ve botched pretty much anything that they’ve touched. They’ve killed more promising companies than Google has over the years. Tumblr can’t be one of them. They need to figure out how to integrate without affecting the flow or users in any way, or they need to simply let it be. In a best-case scenario, they strengthen the site by including it in their coveted home page coverage. Believe it or not, people won’t mind the occasional cute-dog-on-a-couch picture clogging up their portal.
If they pull this off and make it work through proper integration with sites like Flickr, they have an opportunity to be a player in the growing social arena. They could arguably be more prominent than Google in that field (unless you include YouTube, of course) and could become a prime contender to Facebook for time spent on their properties when all are accumulated. It all starts with making the purchase. Their CEO wants it. Will the board approve this bold move?