David Karp, Tumblr's 26-year-old founder, is a high school dropout, an interface whiz ... and CEO of a company with 100 employees and $125 million in funding.
Now a New York Times Magazine profile tracks Karp as he wrestles with the challenge of turning Tumblr from a clever Web platform into a profitable business.
Here are a few of the most interesting things that Karp had to say:
“So if you’re going to be a jerk, you’re looking like a jerk in your own space, and my space is still pristine. That’s how you can design to make a community more positive.”
--On Tumblr’s method of displaying comments to a post only on the commenter’s own blog. Tumblr also doesn’t display “follower” counts in an effort to eliminate the social-media popularity contests that Karp believes can “poison a whole community.”
“The last thing we want to do is compete with someone. That’s for bankers.”
--On seeing Tumblr less as a business platform, and more as a platform for creativity.
“Hey, got a new version coming up--and I took four features out!”
--Said to early company investor Bijan Sabet, on crafting the overall feeling of Tumblr. The features Tumblr eliminates are as important as those it adopts, the Times says.
“I’ve really gotten a kick out of trying to make running a company as Zen an experience as it can be.”
--On how he’s handled the new challenges of designing a business. He uses his experience as a coder to help bring him focus when dealing with big, emerging questions, like how to deal with advertising.
“I think I can make a pretty good case for following our hearts.”
--On discussing Tumblr’s emphasis on feeling over data with his investors. Karp believes that the key to advertising on Tumblr is creating an emotional payoff not felt from conventional online ads.