Rewind: Before David Karp Sold Tumblr to Yahoo

This week, Yahoo got a much-needed dose of cool when the company announced its plans to acquire the blogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion. In 2008, long before Tumblr CEO David Karp said “fuck yeah” to Yahoo, he told Mediabistro  in an interview about his plans for the startup, “I don’t think we aim to sell anything.”

Read an excerpt from our 2008 “So What Do You Do?” interview with Karp below:

Describe the ideal situation for Tumblr, five years out: What will be its key features and how many users will you have registered? How many will be on staff?

In five years, I have absolutely no clue. Hopefully we’ll have moved into the position of refining a core product. We’ll be refining whatever that product is and have shifted our focus on entirely new functionally and uses that we’ll be investing on top of. We’d love to shoot to become one of the top five Web sites. It’s a great goal to shoot for. We want it to be a business and product that people care about and which does something special for them.How many people on staff: that’s an interesting question. I really don’t know. If this thing grows like we want it to, we’d hope to be bigger than the four-man team we are now. It’s nice to think that this never gets to be a team of 100, but I don’t like the idea of being the next huge tech corporation where it’s all about where our talent is coming from and what schools we’re scouting.

That is the direction a lot of companies go and where they stay. Google is so scattered and they’re not focused. I think this is a rule for all large companies: You get to a point where you’re not nimble and you’re not focused. The people on the top are thinking about very different things, and people on the bottom and middle aren’t in the right place in the company to get anything done or to keep a team or a project focused. I can’t imagine being in that environment, where you just don’t know anyone you’re working with.

Do you aim to sell Tumblr?

I don’t think we aim to sell anything. I’m much more enchanted with the notion of something that’s employing me in 15 years rather than something that we flip in a year. And again, that’s something that we don’t think about. And that’s certainly not our goal.

Karp was right about staying employed: Mayer is keeping him on as CEO of Tumblr even after the deal goes through. Read the rest of his interview with writer Sammy Davis on Mediabistro.com.

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