Tumblr Raises $4.5 Million

Tumblr, a New York-based social networking and online publishing platform, has raised $4.5 million in Series B Financing. The round was led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital.


Tumblr, a defining new platform that is closing the gap between social networks and online publishing, announced today that it has closed a Series B round of financing. Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital led the $4.5 million round.

John Borthwick, former Senior Vice President of Technology at Time Warner, and current CEO of Betaworks, will join Tumblr’s board that includes David Karp, Tumblr’s founder; Brad Burnham, General Partner of Union Square Ventures; Bijan Sabet, Partner at Spark Capital; Fred Seibert, Mr. Karp’s mentor, and first Creative Director at MTV Networks and former President of Hanna-Barbera.

In conjunction with the financing, the company has added John Maloney as President. Mr. Maloney is an established new media executive and startup entrepreneur with 20 years of digital and media experience, including most recently senior-level positions at CNET Networks and UrbanBaby.com.

The investment enables Tumblr, founded in 2007 by 22-year-old web entrepreneur David Karp, to leverage its tremendous first year momentum. The Series B investment enables the company to leverage its tremendous first year momentum. Traffic has grown 6x in the past year and now reaches over 15 million monthly uniques through more than 500,000 publishers. Tumblr has rapidly evolved from its initial early adoption in the creative community to broad-based consumer acceptance in the U.S. and abroad.

“I feel so fortunate to have investors who believe in us, and a growing worldwide community that is just as excited about this neat thing we’re building as we are,” says Mr. Karp. “I’m also beyond thrilled that John Maloney has come aboard to work with me in nearly the same capacity we worked together for three years at UrbanBaby. Our skill sets are very complementary. John’s focus on operations and business frees me to lead product development and scale our platform.

“After running a very lean company, with a core team of three this past year, this new capital presents some fascinating opportunities to grow the business and prove a sustainable model. We’ll also be giving a considerable amount of attention to refining Tumblr as a developer platform. It’s become very clear that our community is taking our product much further than we’d be able to on our own,” says Mr. Karp.

Tumblr’s Q1 2009 plans include the launch of a premium service that represents the company’s first revenue generation. It will be followed by a revenue strategy that leverages both Tumblr’s publishing platform and community, while continuing the company’s focus on innovation and invention.

Union Square and Spark also led Tumblr’s Series A round of $775,000 financing that was joined by Betaworks and individual investors including Vimeo Founder Jakob Lodwick; Albert Wenger, Former President of Delicious; and Martin Varsavsky, BioTech entrepreneur.

“We’re really impressed with what David has been able to do with Tumblr this past year, continuing to innovate, roll out new features and grow with limited capital and a small team , says Union Square Ventures’ Brad Burnham . ” This new round of funding – and new key hires – should allow Tumblr to really leverage their unique position in the social media space.”

Bijan Sabet, Partner, Spark Capital, adds “David has the rare combination of someone with a native view of what web consumers want along with very strong technical and creative insight. We’re excited to expand our relationship with David and his growing team.”

Union Square Ventures (www.unionsquareventures.com) is an early stage venture capital fund located in New York focusing on IT-enabled services in the media and marketing, financial services, healthcare and telecom verticals. They back passionate, experienced entrepreneurs who are focused on creating highly scalable services and significant value propositions for their end users. Over the past 17 years, Union Square Ventures has been directly involved in the development of 40 companies and through its prior firms, has participated in the launch of over 120 companies.

Spark Capital (www.sparkcapital.com) is a venture fund based in Boston, Massachusetts. Its investment focus is on the conflux of the media, entertainment and technology industries. Over the last decade, they have been instrumental in the development of new markets and market leaders. Akamai Technologies, CSTV, K12, Qtera, Aether System, Broadbus, thePlatform, Redstone, MediaSixDegrees and Novatel Wireless are just a few of the companies backed by the Spark team that includes former executives of major entertainment, media, and technology companies such as Sony, Time Warner, Blockbuster, Lionsgate, Apple, and Microsoft.

Since September 2007, New York-based Betaworks (www.betaworks.com) has invested in 15 of the most notable startups specializing in social networking and other so-called Web 2.0 technologies, including Covestor LLC, Iminlikewithyou and Tumblr Inc. Co-founded by John Borthwick and Andrew Weissman, Betaworks functions neither purely as a venture capital firm nor as an incubator. Instead of raising money from limited partners, as VCs do, the firm is structured as an operating company that shareholders own. Betaworks is itself a tech developer, building “light” Web applications that might benefit its portfolio companies and catalyze further innovation.

Tumblr (www.tumblr.com) located in New York, and founded in 2007 by CEO David Karp, is a publishing platform and social network offering mixed-media blogs that uniquely reflect the author’s interests. These “tumblelogs” are a variation of blogs that favor short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, songs, dialogues, and video. Tumblelogs are often described as providing a raw connection to their author, rather than their editorial voice. Tumblr reaches over 15 million monthly unique visitors and is a platform for more than 500,000 publishers. (Nov. ’08).