The source of his scepticism is a meeting he had with Mayer back in 2003.
Back then, Google bought a blogging company called Blogger.
Winer and his blogger friends were worried that Google would suddenly start favouring blogs hosted on Blogger in Google search results.
Winer says Google promised him and his friends it would not.
But then Google included a “BlogThis!” button in the Google Toolbar.
To Winer’s chagrin, the “BlogThis!” button only worked with Blogger.
Winer thought this was unfair to other blogging platforms.
Because he was a big deal back then, he was able to get a meeting with a Google executive to voice his complaints.
That executive: Marissa Mayer, then a fast-rising executive engineer at Google.
The meeting didn’t go very well.
Winer writes: All I remember of it was there came a point in the conversation when Mayer had had enough. She just got up and left. I think the people remaining in the conference room were a little embarrassed. Google didn’t do anything to change the BlogThis! button.”
Winer says the moral of the story is that no matter what Mayer or Yahoo are about Tumblr today, it means nothing for the future.
“All this is to say that the promises execs make on acquisitions are meaningless.”
“They own the thing, they will do what they want to with it. It doesn’t matter how many nice sounds Mayer makes on the deal. At the core she cares not one bit what the users of Tumblr think. She’s saying what she needs to say to make the deal happen. To avoid a PR crisis on Day One. To make the team at Tumblr feel like their work has value to the new owners. That somehow this acquisition isn’t actually an acquisition.”
(Maybe I’m naive, but I think Winer’s wrong on this one. At Google, Mayer witnessed the successful acquisition of YouTube, which was left mostly on its own. She keeps saying that’s her model for Tumblr.)