Yahoo in talks to buy Tumblr?

Update: Yahoo said late Friday that it’s planning a press event Monday afternoon in New York City, although it would not say if the event is related to the Tumblr rumors.  

Multiple reports across the Interweb today are suggesting that Yahoo is in serious talks for a potential billion-dollar acquisition of Tumblr, the social blogging site that’s widely considered a hot property even if its current revenue is a bit thin.

Those reports are unconfirmed, but there’s no doubt that Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer is in a shopping mood.

Seems like just a week ago, the rumors were flying that Mayer was actively mulling an acquisition bid for Hulu, the streaming video service owned by media giants Disney, Comcast and News Corp.  That was after Yahoo’s earlier effort to buy the French video service Dailymotion was stymied by French government objections to seeing that company taken over by U.S. interests.

All Things D broke the Tumblr story on Thursday, reporting that Mayer has held talks with the New York start-up’s founder and CEO, David Karp.  ATD’s sources said the deal would help Yahoo in its recently declared quest to regain its “cool” factor and attract more users in the 18-to-24 age bracket. Adweek says its sources have also confirmed the talks.

Mayer has been on a buying spree since taking over at Yahoo, snapping up at least ten start-ups, mostly in the mobile industry.  But most of those deals reportedly have been valued at only a few million apiece, and none have approached the scale of a potential Tumblr acquisition.

Over at GigaOm, meanwhile, veteran industry-watcher Om Malik is suggesting that other Silicon Valley companies might be interested in Tumblr.  While there’s no indication of any active talks between Facebook and Tumblr, Malik notes that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have a long relationship with Karp.  He adds, “We have heard that Yahoo is worried that Facebook could swoop in at the last minute and beat it to the buzzer.”



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