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Tumblr Has Lost Almost A Quarter Of Its Value Under Yahoo's Ownership

Remember when Yahoo promised it wouldn't screw it up?

Posted on February 2, 2016, at 7:46 p.m. ET

Rob Kim / Getty Images

The scene at Tumblr's Year In Review 2014 at Brooklyn Night Bazaar.

Tumblr hasn't quite lived up to Yahoo's expectations, Yahoo acknowledged on Tuesday.

Yahoo, which bought Tumblr in 2013, said it had reduced its valuation of the blogging service by $230 million, or about 23%. The move was basically an acknowledgment that Yahoo overpaid in the $1.1 billion deal.

Buying Tumblr, a hot startup with a twentysomething CEO, was a signature move by Marissa Mayer, who had joined Yahoo as CEO the previous year. People saw it as a sign that Mayer was making tired old Yahoo exciting and relevant again.

That perception has now faded. Yahoo is in the middle of a painful period of corporate soul-searching, saying on Tuesday it would consider "qualified strategic proposals" (corporate speak for a possible sale of the business). It said it would close some international offices and cut its workforce by 15%.

The reduction in Tumblr's value was part of a $4.5 billion write-down in the value of various corporate units, Yahoo said. It had previously valued Tumblr at $990 million. (Tumblr's liabilities accounted for the difference between the $1.1 billion purchase price and its $990 million value on Yahoo's books.)

"Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going," Mayer said in 2013, in announcing the acquisition. "We promise not to screw it up."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.