Yahoo's acquisition of Tumblr has dominated the tech headlines this week, so it should come as no surprise that a panel of Web publishing luminaries discussing the future of media on Thursday weighed in on the portal's recent mega purchase.
Business Insider CEO and editor-in-chief Henry Blodget called the deal "a very smart thing for Yahoo to do," adding that it's an "aggressive move" that could work out for the company. Whether the $1.1 billion price tag is worth it depends on what Yahoo does with the company, he said.
For his part, BuzzFeed CEO and co-founder Jonah Peretti believes the Tumblr deal represents a shift in media: social is no longer a niche method of consuming content, its now the dominant way people discover information.
"You'd rather get something from your friend sharing it than you would get it from a headline or have it pushed to you through the industrial media apparatus of broadcast pipes and printing presses. You'd rather have something come to you through sharing. and Marissa (Mayer, Yahoo's CEO) understood that and that's part of why she spent so much on Tumblr.
And Mark Thompson, the CEO of The New York Times Company, argued the Yahoo-Tumblr deal is also a good thing for New York City—where Tumblr is based—and the potential for tech and content to come together in the city.
But it wasn't all a Tumblr lovefest. Eventually the panel—hosted by I Want Media and titled "Future of Media: 2013—turned to Web video, a burgeoning space in online media. 'Going forward, how important is online video?' moderator Patrick Phillips asked, turning to HuffPost Live president Roy Sekoff.
"How important is LeBron James to the Heat, that would be my position on it," Sekoff said. I think it's incredibly important. It's not the only thing, but it's something that people are very interested in."
Blodget praised HuffPost's innovation in video, but predicted the site's 12-hour broadcast model won't work. "I don't think that the world wants another cable channel," he said. What is working for HuffPost, he added, is the trove of clips that come out of that half-day broadcast. Sekoff countered that the clips are actually part of HuffPost's business model.
BuzzFeed hasn't even fully integrated video, but the site will still rack up more than 75 million video views this month, with 55 percent of that video traffic coming from mobile, Peretti said. Ze Frank heads up BuzzFeed's video efforts from Los Angeles. Peretti compared the rise of Web video to the rise of mobile traffic before it.
For a while, it seemed mobile traffic didn't match the hype around it. But eventually it caught up and became an important platform. Web video is following a similar path, Peretti argued, with more and higher-quality Web video being produced today.
Watch the full panel below: