Verizon to sell Tumblr as part of scaling back media ambitions

by BLOOMBERG/ pic by BLOOMBERG

Verizon Communications Inc. agreed to sell the blogging platform Tumblr to Automattic Inc., the latest sign the wireless giant is dismantling its online empire.

Terms of the transaction weren’t material, Verizon said, suggesting Tumblr sold for a tiny fraction of the $1.1 billion it fetched in 2013. Verizon acquired the site as part of its 2017 purchase of Yahoo.

Automattic already owns a group of publishing sites, including WordPress and Longreads, and sees Tumblr as a good fit. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the sale, saying that Automattic would take on about 200 staffers.

For Verizon, the sale marks a further retrenchment. It has been cutting staffat its online-media division, which was previously called Oath.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process,” Guru Gowrappan, Verizon Media’s chief executive officer, said in a statement Monday.

Verizon had originally set out to turn a patchwork of dot-com brands into a thriving online-advertising business, but the strategy never caught fire. And the carrier’s new CEO is refocusing on what the company does best: wireless service.

Last year, it wrote down the online business by $4.6 billion. That erased almost half the value of the entity, which is also home to AOL and the Huffington Post.