One of the problems on the platforms, Coatney says, is “discovery”, meaning helping Tumblr users discover new cool blogs to follow. So the company is starting new channels, with the help of curators from the Tumblr community, on verticals, starting with news, fashion and (awesomely) long form journalism.
This is pretty cool in and of itself, but something tells us this might be the start of a new advertising play from Tumblr. After all, the Tumblr blogs that are highlighted in these channels are going to get a slew of new followers. And the companies that are increasingly starting Tumblr blogs to market themselves want to get more followers for their Tumblr blogs. So it would make sense for Tumblr to sell some spots in these channels (with all disclosures, of course).
Tumblr has had amazing growth since its inception and is a tremendous product, but it’s struggled to find a business model. A paying “Tumblr Plus” feature was shelved a while ago, and a business model based around virtual goods (buying virtual stickers for your or other blogs) probably isn’t bringing home the bacon.
Tumblr just raised a bunch of money from Sequoia Capital among others and is going to need to deliver real revenues from its investors at some point. Twitter, which shares several investors like Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital with Tumblr, is seeing great success with ad products that help brands get more Twitter followers. It would make sense for Tumblr to build something similar for itself.
Of course this is just speculation on our part right now, and this new feature is useful just by itself, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it was a move in that direction.
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