Blog Post

Tumblr abruptly closes down its Storyboard project, lays off entire editorial team

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

A year ago, Tumblr launched an ambitious attempt to curate content from within the blog network — a unit known as Storyboard, with its own editorial staff who highlighted and aggregated posts from popular Tumblrs. Although the company seemed to have high hopes for the project, founder and CEO David Karp announced late Tuesday night on the official Tumblr blog that Storyboard has been shut down and the staff of the unit have been let go.

In his post, Karp (who will be joining us at our paidContent Live conference on April 17) said that the idea behind the project was to create an editorial team of “experienced journalists and editors assigned to cover Tumblr as a living, breathing community” and to “tell the stories of Tumblr creators in a truly thoughtful way.” The Tumblr founder went on to say that:

“After hundreds of stories and videos… we couldn’t be happier with our team’s effort. And as Tumblr continues to evolve, we’ll always be experimenting with new ways to shine light on our creators [but] what we’ve accomplished with Storyboard has run its course for now, and our editorial team will be closing up shop and moving on. I want to personally thank them for their great work.”

The Storyboard team included Sky Dylan-Robbins, executive editor and former Newsweek/Daiy Beast staffer Jess Bennett — who posted on her own Tumblr that the group had “redefined journalism” and that she was “drunk on a plane” — editor-in-chief Chris Mohney and Christopher Price. A number of outlets wrote about Tumblr’s ambitions with the unit, which did what Mohney called “marketing as journalism.”

Although Tumblr has posted some fairly large traffic numbers, with more than 140 million unique visitors and 20 billion pageviews, the company has struggled to generate revenue — only recently launching an advertising program for its mobile app, after a long period of rejecting such money-making measures — and has promised that the network would be profitable this year.

Post and thumbnail photo courtesy of Pinar Ozger

6 Responses to “Tumblr abruptly closes down its Storyboard project, lays off entire editorial team”

  1. Truly, I’ve never really understood why someone would choose to use Tumblr instead of WordPress — given the infinite flexibility of the latter platform.

    Regardless, I can appreciate that it must be really hard for Karp to move beyond the notion that it’s still a free publishing tool in search of a business model. Was there any attempt to generate revenue with this Storyboard approach?

  2. Seems like they failed to get brands and agencies (read: $$$) interested and involved.
    Any content creation or curation that doesn’t provide for its own future, has no future.
    Or at least a very very risky one.

    If I were E-I-C there, I would have been curating great content, and talking partnerships with people with money (not just the Tumblr honchos), from day one.
    Just sayin’.

  3. The content itself was good, so what happened? Personally I’m on Tumblr constantly, but I can’t imagine making any single Tumblr page a daily go-to, nor do I even bookmark hardly any individual Tumblrs. Though I often wish there were more navigation features. It’s a tough crowd, pay-to-pin posts were hugely unpopular within my own feed, at least.