Tumblr abruptly closes down its Storyboard project, lays off entire editorial team

A year ago, Tumblr launched an ambitious attempt to curate content from within the blog network — a unit known as Storyboard, with its own editorial staff who highlighted and aggregated posts from popular Tumblrs. Although the company seemed to have high hopes for the project, founder and CEO David Karp announced late Tuesday night on the official Tumblr blog that Storyboard has been shut down and the staff of the unit have been let go.

In his post, Karp (who will be joining us at our paidContent Live conference on April 17) said that the idea behind the project was to create an editorial team of “experienced journalists and editors assigned to cover Tumblr as a living, breathing community” and to “tell the stories of Tumblr creators in a truly thoughtful way.” The Tumblr founder went on to say that:

“After hundreds of stories and videos… we couldn’t be happier with our team’s effort. And as Tumblr continues to evolve, we’ll always be experimenting with new ways to shine light on our creators [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. I want to personally thank them for their great work.”

The Storyboard team included Sky Dylan-Robbins, executive editor and former Newsweek/Daiy Beast staffer Jess Bennett — who posted on her own Tumblr that the group had “redefined journalism” and that she was “drunk on a plane” — editor-in-chief Chris Mohney and Christopher Price. A number of outlets wrote about Tumblr’s ambitions with the unit, which did what Mohney called “marketing as journalism.”

Although Tumblr has posted some fairly large traffic numbers, with more than 140 million unique visitors and 20 billion pageviews, the company has struggled to generate revenue — only recently launching an advertising program for its mobile app, after a long period of rejecting such money-making measures — and has promised that the network would be profitable this year.

Post and thumbnail photo courtesy of Pinar Ozger