The very platform this post is appearing on is undergoing a bit of a revolution. The rise of blogs over the past decade has begun to give way to microblogging platforms, such as Twitter and Tumblr. The difference between the two is that microblogs tend to rely heavily on short bursts of information: links, photos, videos and brief messages. Blogger fatigue gave way to sharing smaller, less labor intensive bits of content.
The short timely updates have not gone unnoticed. Twitter has become something of a wire that provides up to the second reports about breaking news from around the world, used by both large traditional news outlets and freelance reporters. Tumblr is used by ABC journalist Matthew Keys for, among other topics, coverage of the Japan earthquake, which was recognized with a nomination by the Online News Association for the best breaking news by a small site. Until recently, Keys was a freelancer, but his online reporting on microblogging platforms drew attention and led to his recent hire by ABC.
While Twitter’s membership rate grew 26% over the past year, according to Search Engine Journal, Tumblr’s rate has been equally, if not more impressive. According to ComScore, Tumblr attracted 13.4 million visitors in July 2011, up 218% from a year ago (4.2 million in July 2010) along with a staggering 2.5 billion page views per month. 12.5 billion page views per month (according to Quantcast) With tremendous growth comes growing pains, as Twitter once experienced with their own pre-2008 downtime issues.
Now, Tumblr is starting to recover. So I sat down with Tumblr’s founder David Karp, pictured above, last week to discuss how the company has improved. It was readily apparent that the number of hires they’ve made since the last time I visited the office had increased significantly. Karp told me they added 20 engineers in the past year: “Infrastructure is much further along now. We’ve paid down many technical debts to allow ourselves to scale. We’ve created a more distributed, resilient infrastructure.”
As a long-time Tumblr member, I experienced the infrastructure buckling under the demand firsthand. Out of frustration, I vowed to scale back my use of the service until it became more stable. Stability has been one issue with Tumblr, but other issues have crept up as well. Several brands have publicly aired their displeasure with how the company has handled partnership opportunities. One reason that may be the case is because there is no formal process yet for partnerships. Says Karp: