Within two weeks of its 2007 launch, plucky microblogging platform Tumblr hit 750,000 users, becoming the go-to point for single service blogs (often with NSFW titles) such as "Look at this F---ing Hipster," "STFU, Parents," "Animals with Casts," countless "F--- Yeah" Tumblogs, and a collection of infinitely reblogged photo memes such as "Selleck Waterfall Sandwich" and "Jumping Rob Pattinson.
Five years later, the New York City-based tech company has grown from a content-generating platform to curation central, serving 120 million users and getting 15 billion unique page views every month. These are the numbers CEO David Karp cited from Internet traffic-tracking outfit Quantcast, while discussing Tumblr's evolution Monday at the Digital Life Design Conference in Munich, Germany.
"The early growth that we saw was around creators," Karp told the audience. "Our first community was those creators. We didn’t set out to build a network ... all we wanted to do was make novel tools."
Those novel — and easy-to-use — tools took off quickly however, even though Tumblr originally eschewed the standard social network tools common on similar sites — such as commenting and tagging — that more than a few people find annoying.
Nonetheless, Tumblr is now a major influencer in how the distribution of mainstream media is changing. For example, the average Tumblr post is re-blogged on the site nine times, and now features apps for direct posts to Facebook and Twitter.
The content "therefore reaches vastly more people than if it just sat on its original site waiting to be discovered by people visiting it directly," Felix Salmon writes on the Tumblr reblogging phenomenon in his Reuters post, "How sharing disrupts media." "In the future, the most viral stories are going to have a life of their own, being shared across many different platforms and being read by people who will never visit the original site on which they were published."
Probably not that far in the future, either. As Tumblr's "about" page notes, the site now hosts more than 16 billion posts and 42 million blogs. On Monday alone, Tumblr racked up up more than 61 million posts.
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