The Short-Form Blogging Platform and David Karp

David Karp

"For every new feature we add, we take an old one out. A lot of big sites don’t do that, and it’s a problem."

- David Karp

Before becoming an entrepreneur, David Karp started his career as a web developer. With his enthusiasm for blogging platforms, he founded Tumblr, a short-form blogging platform and social networking website.

According to the MIT Technology Review TR35, Karp was amongst the 35 highest ranking innovators of the world below the age of 35. With a net personal wealth of $200 million and his company valuing at $800 million, Karp is one of the richest entrepreneur under the age of 30.

Early Life

David Karp was born on July 6th, 1986, in New York City. He and his younger brother named Kevin grew on Upper West Side of Manhattan. Their parents divorced when Karp was at the age of 17. Karp's parents are film and television composer Michael D. Karp and teacher Barbara Ackerman.

Karp attended The Calhoun School from age 3 through 8th grade, where his mother teaches science. At 11, he began learning HTML, and it was not long before he was designing websites for small local businesses.

When David Karp was 14, he was a bright teenager. Quiet, somewhat reclusive, bored with his classes at the Bronx High School of Science. He spent most of his free time in his bedroom, glued to his computer. But instead of trying to make him like other kids, and trying to make him get some fresh air, his mother, had another solution: she suggested that he drop out of high school to be home-schooled.

At the time, Karp had aspirations of getting into a college in New York or MIT and saw homeschooling and doing other projects on the side as a way to impress the colleges. Karp never returned to high school or earned his high school diploma.

Early Career To Tumblr

David Karp was interested in computers since his childhood. He did an internship at Frederator Studios at the age of 14 as an animation producer where he was captivated by the computer engineers works. And from there went on to work as a software consultant for UrbanBaby, an online parenting forum. Karp started working for John Maloney’s UrbanBaby when a Frederator employee recommended him.

Karp completed his first project which was to be done in some days in just a few hours. Maloney was very impressed with him and made him the head of product along with equity. Karp left UrbanBaby in 2006 when it was sold to CNET.

Karp used the money that he got from his share of sale to establish his software consultancy firm named Davidville. Marco Arment joined the company as an engineer after replying to Karp's Craigslist ad.

Karp was very interested in short form blogging platforms ( tumblelogs) but was only waiting for someone established to start their own platform. However after a year waiting and nothing like that happened, Karp and Arment began working on their own tumblelogging platform during a two-week gap between contracts in 2006. They launched Tumblr on April 27, 2007. It is a social networking and micro blogging website. Two weeks after its launch, it had 75,000 users.

He describes his goal of Tumblr that "After we launch a new feature, I keep a close eye on how many people are using it. If it's unpopular, we'll discontinue it and try something else. Every feature has some maintenance cost, and having fewer features lets us focus on the ones we care about and make sure they work very well. For every new feature we add, we take an old one out. A lot of big sites don't do that, and it's a problem. Twitter started as a beautifully simple product, but it's now going the same route as Face book. The drive to innovate can over encumber and destroy a product. My goal is to keep Tumblr very focused."

In October of 2007, Karp closed down his consultancy company because he felt it was interfering with his client work. He changed the name Davidville to Tumblr, Inc. He sold 25 percent of the company to some investors.

Marco Arment served as the lead developer but he left the company in 2010 to focus on Instapaper.

Since 2013 Tumblr is host to more than 87 million blogs. According to Quantcast, Tumblr has the 11th largest internet traffic. David Karp mixed the right ingredients into making this world famous website; an awesome design, a clear and concise pitch, a 'catchy' name and a useful purpose. It was the first blogging website that was different from the editorial magazine column presentation and was less effusive.

Karp has kept a very cozy environment at his office which is in Downtown New York. There is no conference table, just a couch and some chairs. Karp also doesn’t like to keep a strict schedule to things but instead keeps it light and easy. He does not believe in doing any marketing or advertisement for the company because he feels there is no need for it.

As of May 19, 2013, Tumblr hosts over 108 million blogs. On May 20, 2013, Yahoo! acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion, with Karp still in his position as CEO.

In 2010, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.

Bijan Sabet, a general partner at Spark Capital said that "when I first met David he was 20 years old and wearing sneakers and jeans," Sabet that was one of the first people to invest in Tumblr. "But I knew he was one of these rare entrepreneurs that grew up on the web and who could come up with an idea, build it himself, and then ship it that night."

With Tumblr's 2009 acquisition of Tumblerette, an Apple Inc. App Store application created by Jeff Rock and Garrett Ross, Tumblr launched its official iPhone app. The site became available to BlackBerry smart phones on April 17, 2010 via a Mobelux application in the BlackBerry App World. In June 2012, Tumblr released a new version of its iOS app, Tumblr 3.0 allowing support for Spotify, high resolution images and offline access.

In early June 2012, Tumblr featured its first major brand advertising campaign in conjunction with Adidas. Adidas launched an official soccer Tumblr blog and bought placements on the user dashboard. Tumblr has raised funding from Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital,Martín Varsavsky, John Borthwick (Betaworks), Fred Seibert, and Sequoia Capital (among other investors). The company had $800 million valuation in August 2011. In September 2011, the company raised $85 million in a round of funding led by Greylock Partners and Insight Venture Partners.

In November 2017, Karp sent an email to Tumblr employees, announcing that he’s ending his 11-year role as the Verizon-owned blogging platform.

Personal Life

Tall and willowy, with a mop of brown hair and piercing blue eyes, David Karp typically dresses in jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers. He speaks at a rapid clip and, often, for minutes without stopping.

Like many who run social internet companies, Karp can teeter on reclusive. He preferred to come to the office early to work alone, avoiding other people. "Where I feel the most productive and engaged is when I’m buried in code, buried in some project, tweaking some designs," he said. "I’m certainly introverted."

With a net worth of about $200 million according to Forbes, currently David Karp that is dating Rachel Eakley, a trained chef and psychology graduate, live together in Karp's one-bedroom condo in the tony Esquire loft building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that worth $1.6 million. Karp and Earkley own a pet dog named Clark.

He intends to "figure out something" with philanthropy. And one day he might even go to college. "At least I should be able to afford it," he said.