Mayer Talks Tumblr Plans, Unveils New Flickr

Looks to improve blogging platforms search

Yahoo plans to lean on its search technology to help users discover more great content on Tumblr, the company’s new $1.1 billion acquisition. And Tumblr will help Yahoo reach a younger, more visual driven crowd. But other than that, Yahoo plans to stay out of the way, pledged CEO Marissa Mayer at an event in New York’s Times Square on Monday.

During the show, Mayer said that she only got to know Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp late last year. But the pair hit it off quickly as they started to realize the synergies between the two companies.

“I didn’t foresee doing an acquisition of this type that was this strategic at this time,” Mayer said. “But as we started talking together about different partnerships and things we might do together, one of the big challenges on Tumblr is discovery and serendipity. We have great personalization and search capabilities. and on our network, we really want great and compelling and engaging content. The more we talked, the more we realized there were lots of ways and places the two companies could operate independently to complement each other. So much so that it made sense to merge the two companies.”

Mayer was joined at the event by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who touted the city’s tech startup community. The pair announced that Yahoo would be moving its 500-plus New York workforce into a single office, the former New York Times offices on 43rd street. “20 years ago we used to have a different kind of Yahoo in Times Square,” the mayor quipped.

Tumblr founder CEO David Karp didn’t speak at the event. He sat in a the front row in a Tumblr sweatshirt as Mayer shifted the conversation to Flickr, a Yahoo acquisition from another era. “It didn’t fare so well,” she said. “It languished. We can make Flickr awesome again.”

To that end, Mayer and her team unveiled a visually striking, photo-centric redesign of Flickr, as well as news that users would now have access to a tera byte of storage space—negating any need for the average human to pay to store any photos on the Web. “Flickr had become about words and blue links,” she said. “This product is heart-stoppingly beautiful.”

The presentation was classic Mayer (at least based on the newish CEOs first several months on the job). It was heavy on product and user experience, while emphasizing speed; Mayer said her team only came up with the idea for the redesign and tera byte storage goal in March. Meanwhile, monetization and advertising took a back seat. That may be music to the ears of young marketers worried about Tumblr's ad plans going forward.

But Mayer did shed some light on her overall advertising philosophy, one that would seem to be in synch with Karp, Tumblr and it’s massive 300 million unique user audience. “Ads work best when they’re really seamless with the experience  They match the content that’s being presented.They’re clearly marked as ads but they’re every bit as good as the content that’s being presented along side of them and they follow the same form and function.”

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