While Twitter and Facebook rule from the West Coast, microblogging site Tumblr — and its founder, David Karp — have been born and bred in New York City. And in many ways, the Big Apple shaped what the company has become. Though it had just 170,000 users in 2008, Tumblr has matured in Silicon Alley, buttressed by a New York-centric creative audience and a growing new media economy. Today, Tumblr hosts 65.6 million blogs, which contain 27.9 billion posts; the company’s mantra is, “Follow the world’s creators.”
And David Karp is quite the creator himself.
“I was a pretty Internet-savvy kid growing up,” says Karp, who left high school at 15. “Internet savvy” is an understatement. Karp began interning for animation producer Fred Seibert at age 14, and then worked as a software consultant for UrbanBaby — both positions offered him experience and knowledge he likely couldn’t have gained in high school.
As for why he started Tumblr in 2007, Karp says he felt limited by specialized tools, such as Flickr and Delicious, but was impressed by blogging platforms, like WordPress. Tumblr was created to bridge these two genres — it allows photos, text, video and audio to live together under one domain, in a streamlined, easy-to-use interface.
“Left alone with it, millions of people do some pretty remarkable stuff,” says Karp.