The Forgotten Heroes Of $1.1 Billion Tumblr

bijan sabet david karpBijan Sabet of Spark Capital hugging David Karp following the Tumblr-Yahoo acquisition.

David Karp is the face of Tumblr, a social content platform that was recently acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion.

But he isn’t the only person who deserves credit for the company’s success. Numerous executive and investors helped Tumblr grow and become the company it is today.

Thee in particular come to mind.

Bijan Sabet – Sabet, a partner at Spark Capital, gave Karp his first term sheet. He helped convince Karp that Tumblr was a business, not just a side project. “I basically spent the summer of 2007 trying to talk him into starting a company around it,” Sabet told Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici in January. ” Spark led Tumblr’s first round of investment.

Marco ArmentArment was Tumblr’s first employee. He joined Karp’s vision in 2006 and helped keep the passionate designer in check. “I was never the “idea guy” — in addition to my coding and back-end duties, I often served as an idea editor,” Arment wrote of his time at Tumblr. “David would come in with a grand new feature idea, and I’d tell him which parts were infeasible or impossible, which tricky conditions and edge cases we’d need to consider, and which other little niceties and implementation details we should add.”

John Maloney – Maloney was hired to turn Tumblr into a real business. He joined in 2008; he and Karp met while working for Urban Baby, a company that was acquired by CNET in 2006. “As a mentor he taught me, among many things, how to convincingly act like an adult,” Karp wrote to his team when Maloney left Tumblr in April 2012. Maloney was never replaced after his departure, although Tumblr actively tried to scout a new President. “I was also completely neglecting: our bills, our investors, our office, hiring, our lawyers, and the thousands of emails that were sitting in my inbox…John magically put everything in order…John was the catalyst for everything [Tumblr has] accomplished.”

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