ValleyWag has a rumor making the rounds at the moment putting Tumblr once again in the spotlight of the /socnets blog today. AllThingsD is running a refutation of VWag’s rumor that Tumblr is looking at an acquisition offer by Yahoo.
While the rumor doesn’t seem to be holding much water at the moment, I have to say that I have much the same reaction that most folks seem to have – it’s a bad idea.
On the one hand, it seems to fit into the general spirit of other tools at Yahoo like Flickr and Delicious. On the other, Yahoo already has a number of lifestreaming products that aren’t doing a whole lot, like the ill-fated Yahoo 360 and floundering profiles system.
I’m not sure, at this point, what Yahoo can do to rehabilitate it’s own community. The most successful thing it has going at ths point is it’s email and the partnership with AT&T that sets folks homepages to My.Yahoo.com. To try to turn that into a community would require integrating other services in their arsenal (like, say, Flickr and Delicious) into that fold. Bringing another lifestreaming service with no discernable business model doesn’t bring them any closer to displacing Twitter, the theory that Duncan Riley and Owen Thomas seem to be advancing.
It’s difficult to imagine that driving user engagement being the path to community is something that Yahoo doesn’t understand, having been in this game this long. Furthermore, it’s not something you can buy and plug into a larger userbase – it’s something you need to organically cultivate.