People don’t go into business to share the commodities they created for free. They venture into businesses - and tumblr is a business - to make money. Nobody puts their life and heart and soul into a business venture without the idea that they are going to get something in return.
To bemoan the fact that they will be able to make money is on the same level as when people bitch at a band for “selling out” when they go to a big label or sell their music for an ad. “Oh, look at that terrible band, able to pay their bills now! How awful!” And yea, we all know Karp has made money already and man of us don’t even like him based on stories and interviews we’ve read, but keep in mind tumblr is a company with employees and if those employees can keep their jobs and keep getting paid a reasonable salary because tumblr is turning a profit more power to them.
And to expect a company to share those profits with the users of its product is ridiculous. Would anyone expect the same of twitter or Wordpress? Would you expect that of any program you use? Does Adobe share its revenue with you? Did the makers of the Avengers share any of their profits with you, the movie goer who made them all that money? Does your brand of toothpaste send you a check every month to thank you for keeping it in business? Then why expect the same of tumblr? Is it because of the community? There are whole communities out there who keep tv shows alive but you don’t see the creators of Arrested Development handing out profit sharing checks.
You have no idea if a sale to Yahoo and the eventual money making off that deal will take away anything from tumblr. Who knows, maybe we’ll get enhancements. Maybe not. But you can’t say for sure that the “specialness” of tumblr will be gone. If the community of tumblr is what you are here for, that community will remain. It’s already intact and no amount of profit-turning additions or subtractions to the platform will take that away from us.
Sit back and see what happens. You may not even notice a difference. You may notice a good difference. You may decide it’s not what you want and move on. But keep in mind three things: 1. David Karp created a platform that people have chosen on their own to use and he owes us nothing, at least monetarily, for our use of this free product. 2. It’s ok for people to make money off of their creative endeavors. 3. This platform is free. It’s been free since its inception. Even if it as some point ceases to be free, we’ve all certainly got great use out of something we had to pay nothing for.
Also, I take issue with your claim that money and goodness can not exist in the same room. There are a lot of companies out there doing well and doing good at the same time. People can make a profit and still be good human beings.
To clarify what I was trying to say, I think that for Tumblr to exist at the profit level that a behemoth like Yahoo would need will drive away the things what makes it special. Being profitable enough to support a couple dozen individuals is possibly sustainable; extracting the kind of money Wall Street expects means grabbing up everything in sight, and greed isn’t healthy for anything that is alive and breathing.
And about the music thing - I still say that conforming to Madison Avenue’s expectations is death for any kind of art or artist. Advertisers need easily-accessible, simple, non-controversial art. They can’t deal with messy things like anger or hurt or lust, or the things that make us get out of bed in the morning. They either have to edit out the humanity - edit out the bits and pieces where we sing about wanting to fuck our girlfriends or fight our rivals - or they risk pissing off potential customers. Conform to someone’s else’s strictures very long, as an artist, and sooner or later you’ll lose your own voice. Make a career out of it, and sooner or later you are writing commercials instead of songs.
(I’m not trying to say artists shouldn’t get paid, at all - I think they do more to keep our society healthy and happy than most any other group of people, and they deserve to be fed and sheltered for their efforts. It’s more that any artist that is getting rich probably needs to think long and hard about all of the things that are going to shape their next project. Are you writing for yourself, or are you writing to help GM sell trucks?)
(And signing with a record label or big publishing house is a similar vice - once again, it means working to fulfill a corporate expectation. It was a necessary vice, certainly, once upon a time - but maybe not so much anymore. If it is at all possible for you to eat and not sign a contract with a big company, I think both you and your art will be better off for it at the end of the day.)
Anyway, back to Tumblr - I don’t think you can really consider the people who are creating all this content to be analogous to people who are buying a product. I wouldn’t expect Adobe to share what money it makes selling Lightroom and Photoshop with me - but then again, I do expect them to share that money with the people who contributed to making the software. Just like I would argue - in a just world, at least - that a platform like Tumblr owes at least as much to the people who made the content that drew the eyeballs in the first place. David Karp wouldn’t have a penny were it not for his contributors. Tumblr is an empty shell without people like you. You deserve a bite of that apple. That is something I will argue for.
I agree more with Michele. That $13M wasn’t being spread amongst a few dozen employees. I’ve met one here in RVA, and she isn’t getting paid anywhere close to a cut of that. She’s doing well, mind you, but not “split the money across a few dozen employees” well.
Maybe being part of a behemoth like Yahoo! would mean that they would incorporate functions users want, instead of banning enhancements that users find their own way to make happen. Facebook bothers the crap out of me, but you and I, Maria, Michele, and so many others of us, know each other there. We still use it, regardless the pain in our ass it’s become. And, despite my moaning about Facebook’s constant changing, some of those changes have been welcome. Some. Regardless, it hasn’t lost its core uniqueness and attraction, despite its ever-growing commercialization.
We do not make Tumblr the platform it is. We customize it to be what we want by who we follow; something nearly identical in any platform. My daughter’s Tumblr dashboard is COMPLETELY different than mine, because she follows a completely different group of people (not to mention, she follows about 600 more people than I do). Last night we were discussing that she had read someone post that she was afraid of losing Tumblr’s innocence, in the sense that “we can be free to post whatever we want, anonymously,” however my daughter wondered what world that girl lived in, because constantly people are attacking others on Tumblr for any skew of non-inclusion. She ran down the tragedy of a woman who made an extremely well-written post about an important issue, and was then viciously attacked online, and her otherwise socially-important post was eviscerated, over her unfortunate use of the word retarded. Apparently people took it as far as discovering this woman’s email address and sending her hate mail. I’ve heard of these things happening, however I’ve curated my follow list carefully to only follow you assholes I love! My point is, my daughter’s Tumblr experience is vastly different than mine, as is her Facebook experience. Victoria and I even read magazines differently.
To say Wired owes me something for its not-huge staff, or that Conde-Nast owes me something for when they bought Wired, would have seemed silly. We certainly didn’t expect anything when Yahoo! bought Flickr.
As far as bands go: to what radio are you listening? Top 40 is RIFE with songs about fucking girlfriends (and boyfriends) and fighting! That’s just top 40. And they’re not hiding behind lines like “afternoon delight” any more. I think the difference is in how badly you want the deal, and what you’re willing to sign away. I have some friends who are signed with Epic. They escalated through 2 smaller labels to get there. They insisted on maintaining control of their music, and they have. They have been accused by fans of “selling out” every time a new album comes out, but that’s because they continue to hone their craft, and IMMENSE effort goes into writing each new album, so in turn each album sounds different. They’ve never written a single song for the label. They hope each time, that Epic will pick up the option for a new album (the contract they wanted, and got, was that they would not be stuck with “3 more albums in this contract”. It pays less up front, but about the same in the end.), and so far, Epic has. Through them, I’ve met lots of bands, happily making money, the way they want to, in fairly harmonious contracts with medium to big labels. When you’re young and naïve, it’s easy to let someone take advantage of you. Even if you’re old and desperate, it’s easy to be taken advantage of. Many bands fall into this trap. It’s sad how so many artists have allowed themselves to sign away their rights. John Mellencamp is perfect example. He was young and desperate, and signed away much of his profit to his first manager. To this day, that dude gets a significant cut of Mellencamp’s revenue. He even signed away his right to his own name, being forced to initially perform under the moniker John Cougar. At least he argued his way out of Johnny Cougar…
I’ve been excited for bands like The Crystal Method, Spoon, and Alex Clare when I’ve heard their music in advertisements. Especially since they were songs already published. That’s not selling out. If so, all graphic artists need to quit jobs for the Martin Agency, and other advertising companies, and photographers need to step the fuck away from magazines and any for-profit online companies. Someone in this thread made a decision to separate from an outlet for her art, because she decided it wasn’t fulfilling her artistic need, and turning something fun into a chore. I hope she finds a way to still make that art profitable, because she deserves to get paid for it!
If Tumblr’s going to accept a deal from someone, and believe me, they will, because David Karp created a fantastic platform, however he is not the money-making machine that Zuckerberg is, I would rather it be Yahoo! than Google or Apple. I like what I’ve read of Marissa Meyer, despite her love of the younger crowd, and dismissal of us old farts!