Tumblr abruptly cancels Storyboard project, entire editorial team gets the boot

After experiencing a record high amount of traffic over the past year it comes as a surprise to most that the social media company – which has lagged behind other platforms since its inception in 2007, is shaking things up.

Only a year ago Tumblr launched it’s Storyboard project, an initiative to tell the “tales from behind the dashboard” as they explained it on their website.  With 46 million blogs as of February 2012, the social media site aimed to highlight the backstory of their most interesting users with a new story each day.

Their narratives covered the obscurity of Brooklyn glass blowing, a one-on-one with Stephen Chbosky – the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and a day in the life of New York City’s pothole repair crew, among many, many others.  The stories were heavily character driven with no specific storyline structure.

But after posting hundreds of videos and stories, the company has inexplicably decided to pull the plug.

“As Tumblr continues to evolve, we’ll always be experimenting with new ways to shine light on our creators,” said CEO David Karp on the official Tumblr blog.  “[But] what we’ve accomplished with Storyboard has run its course for now, and our editorial team will be closing up shop and moving on.”

With no further explanation as to why the project is being cancelled, it doesn’t seem to make sense.  As of March 26, Tumblr officially hosts over 100 million blogs, a more than 50 percent increase in just over a year.  With that much growth you would think that they would want to invest in the projects that garnered so much traffic for the company.

With the recent closure of the project, the editorial team comprised of noted journalists including editorial producer Sky Dylan-Robbins, executive editor former Newsweek/Daily Beast staffer Jess Bennett, editor-in-chief Chris Mohney, and curator-in-chief Christopher Price are left to tweak their resumes in hopes of finding their next gig.

Yesterday, Storyboard officially aired it’s final piece – The Creators of Chicago: Artist Luke Pelletier, which in less than 24 hours has already been ‘liked’ or reblogged over 2,000 times.

The Storyboard project was considered an initiative to drive traffic to the site and push the company, which has historically struggled to generate revenue, to become a leader in the social media field that is heavily dominated by Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Karp is promising that this year the company will be profitable after finally allowing advertisers to pay for placement on their site – a move they have been avoiding until now.   Bloggers will be allowed to pay to have their blogs “stick out,” according to Karp in an interview with Bloomberg.  But it makes you wonder whether cancelling the Storyboard project is the right step towards becoming the leader of social media.

About Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn is a recent graduate from City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in The Buffalo News, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times 'Fort Greene Local', The Daily Meal, and FoxNews.com.
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