The recession is slowing down the tech-financing train, but it’s not stopping it. Blogging service Tumblr just raised $4.5 million in a Series B round led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital.
Tumblr, like Twitter, is a service with a passionate and devoted userbase but no revenue.
Founder David Karp plans to change that include paid “Plus” accounts for users. He’s also at least considering charging some of the media companies flocking to Tumblr set-up fees.
Karp explained some of his money-making plans to MediaMemo:
Karp says he’s going to start generating money in early 2009. Not by selling ads on his members pages — Karp thinks the site will eventually incorporate ads in some way, but not yet — but by selling users “premium” services, most of which he’s not ready to describe. He does promise they will be “really sexy”.
More practically, he points out that other Web services, like the WordPress blogging platform and Yahoo’s Flickr photo service, have been able to upsell many of their users with goodies like extra storage. He figures many of his users will pay up, too.
Tumblr operates on two different levels at once: On one, Tumblr is an elegant and easy-to-use blogging platform that lets users create web pages far more attractively and quickly than something like WordPress or Drupal. On the second level, Tumblr has a culture of reblogging its own devotees describe as “incestuous.” Digging into that culture as a newb can make you feel a bit like the new kid at large Southern California public high school — there’s a few dozen micro-famous A-listers it seems everyone has “friended,” and hundreds of wannabes all desperately vying for a spot at the cool kids’ table. While social networks like Twitter and Friendfeed also have their cliques and stars, the Tumblr hierarchy seems more monolithic.
So we have no doubt Karp will be able to sell thousands of pro accounts the day he introduces them, because a pro account on Tumblr would work just like the fledgling virtual goods market: it’s not about features, it’s about status.
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