A social future for old web names

The latest news of tumblr selling for 1.1B to Yahoo further pushes the old publishers into the new generation of technology sites that have failed to find revenue to support their ambitions. Instagram and Summly included. It’s not as if they are selling out for nothing either. These deals are significant in their size so to term them as aqui-hires or simply ways of larger web businesses staving off the competition would be to ignore the success each had in the short-term. There is more at play here.

In the case of tumblr it is an easy play for Yahoo to extend their audience network without having to pay a great deal for content over the next 3-4 years. In fact they have a willing workforce ready to push opinions and pictures for free. They need only wrap advertising around it an ever-growing independent publishing network. Whether they arbitrage the best of like YouTube does with key VBloggers we will wait to see but it may turn out a good move for Yahoo in halting the drain of eyeballs to non-traditional media sources. Social is Yahoo’s future.

Another relationship that is still flowering is the Facebook/Microsoft one. Microsoft only have a small shareholding but the relationship appears much bigger. Starting with the Skype – Facebook integration Microsoft seems to have made the bet that the social layer on Facebook will one day become an intrinsic part of its operating suite.

The recent purchase by Facebook of then Atlas ad platform puts Facebook in a better spot in proving advertiser value. Whereas the impending launch of Microsoft’s next 365 version sounds remarkably socially driven. It’s hard to believe these businesses aren’t closer than they currently appear. It looks like Microsoft’s future may be social too.

Google obviously has made no secret of their social ambitions adding a layer to their engine but it’s the sleeping giant of YouTube that seems to be the main push. YouTube still isn’t in the household box set yet but it is simply a matter of time. As they continue to add channels (subscription and free) the inherent social functions, UGC and on-demand nature of the site shows Google’s push. To bring on demand advertising alongside on-demand programming on any device. There is really just one device left for YouTube to dominate – the TV.

When you look at these suspects battling away it may simply become a matter of time until older names, older media start to turn their attention to sites that naturally fit their business. Like Twitter and News Corp perhaps?

What it does mean for sure is that social media is here to stay. That the players are finding ways to survive either by themselves with slight changes to traditional publisher business models or by ensuring relevance of older businesses by refreshing how that business communicates to and builds and audience.

I think what this may mean is one day a Twitter / News Corp tie up would seem quite natural. And accessing Facebook as a social layer on your virtual desktop or using Word to compose a birthday note within Facebook in collaboration with friends may become a reality.