Marissa Mayer figures Yahoo could’ve done better buying Netflix instead of Tumblr

Image: Yahoo

Marissa Mayer says Yahoo should’ve bought Netflix or Hulu, not Tumblr, during her time as CEO.

“We looked at a transformative acquisition, and we bought Tumblr,” Mayer said in an interview with Tech Brew. “At the same time, we were also considering whether it was possible to buy Hulu or, ironically, Netflix. And I think Netflix was $4 billion and Hulu was at $1.3 billion at the time. And either of those, with hindsight being 20/20, would have been a better acquisition.”

Yahoo paid $1.1 billion for Tumblr in 2013 but struggled to make sense of the platform among its other media efforts. The company started bringing ads to Tumblr and pushed employees to meet unrealistic sales goals. In 2016, Yahoo wrote down Tumblr’s value by $230 million.

After Verizon acquired a struggling Yahoo, things only went downhill from there. The prevalence of child porn on the platform led to Tumblr’s temporary removal from the App Store in 2018. Tumblr responded by banning sexual content altogether just one month later. Users began leaving the platform in droves, with traffic dipping by nearly 30 percent. In 2019, Verizon offloaded Tumblr to the owner of WordPress for less than $3 million.

Even though Yahoo never acquired Hulu or Netflix, it did have a brief stint in original streaming video with Yahoo Screen, making shows like Other Space and Sin City Saints and funding a sixth season of Community. For the record, Yahoo could very well have screwed up a Netflix or Hulu acquisition, too, but it probably would’ve been much harder to do.

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