The news that broke Sunday is now official.
Yahoo confirmed early Monday morning that it is buying Tumblr in a deal worth about $1.1 billion. "Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business," Yahoo added.
In its statement announcing the deal, Yahoo says that:
"Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!'s personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they'll love. In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!'s media network and search experiences. The two companies will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance the user experience."
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says in the statement that "fundamentally, Tumblr and Yahoo! are both all about users, design, and finding surprise and inspiration amidst the everyday."
Tumblr CEO David Karp adds that:
"Our team isn't changing. Our roadmap isn't changing. And our mission — to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve — certainly isn't changing. But we're elated to have the support of Yahoo! and their team who share our dream to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas. Tumblr gets better faster with more resources to draw from."
Not all outside opinions are that favorable:
— Forbes contributor Peter Cohan says the purchase "fails 4 tests of a successful acquisition" because "Tumblr's industry is not attractive ... [the] combined companies are worse off ... Yahoo is over-paying ... [and] Yahoo will struggle to integrate Tumblr."
— "A billion bucks is a lot to pay for a company that has so little revenue — just $13 million last year," notes ABC News.
But The Wall Street Journal says that "Yahoo needs the growth. Its annual revenue has been stuck for years around $5 billion, and the company's big presence on personal computers hasn't translated well to mobile devices, where it lacks the advantage of Apple Inc.'s AAPL -0.30% coveted hardware or Google's ubiquitous smartphone operating software, Android. Meanwhile, Facebook and Google have demonstrated that a vast audience for free content can bring in significant advertising revenue."
Christopher Lorek and Stephen Shaw, the two FBI agents who died in a training accident on Friday off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va., were part of the bureau's Critical Incident Response Group.
According to the FBI, that unit:
"Consists of a cadre of special agents and professional support personnel who provide expertise in crisis management, tactical operations, crisis negotiations, hostage rescue, hazardous devices mitigation, critical incident intelligence, and surveillance and aviation.
"Through aggressive training programs, extensive research, state-of-the-art technologies and equipment, and far-reaching partnerships with international, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, CIRG works to successfully resolve critical incidents worldwide and achieve its mission of 'Readiness, Response, and Resolution.' "
FBI Director Robert Mueller, in a statement mourning the loss of the two men, added that they were part of CIRG's Hostage Rescue Team. In February, members of that unit rescued an almost 6-year-old boy from the Alabama bunker where he was being held captive by a gunman. Agents killed the kidnapper during that successful rescue.
The bureau says the Hostage Rescue Team, created in 1983 and based at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., "is the U.S. government's non-Department of Defense full-time counterterrorist tactical team." Its members have "deployed domestically and around the globe nearly 800 times."
The team's motto is sevare vitas — "to save lives."
It is "a full-time, national-level tactical team ... capable of being deployed to protect American citizens around the world."
The bureau has posted a video about the Hostage Rescue Team's history here. It includes scenes from some of the unit's training missions.
Not much is known at this time about what the men were doing or how they died. According to WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Va., "a Navy spokesperson said the accident happened aboard a Military Sealift Command ship the FBI had leased from them for training purposes." A retired FBI agent, Irvin Wells, tells the station that the Hostage Rescue Team's training is dangerous and designed to simulate risky situations.
The Associated Press reports that Lorek, 41, "joined the FBI in 1996 and is survived by a wife and two daughters, 11 and 8." Shaw, 40, "joined in 2005 and is survived by a daughter, 3, and son, 1."
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- J.K. Rowling, Seamus Heaney, Hilary Mantel, Tom Stoppard and Ian McEwan, together with dozens of other well-known authors, have annotated first editions of their novels for an auction on Tuesday to benefit English PEN, an organization that promotes freedom of expression. An interactive project at The Guardian lets you scroll through the annotations online. Among other revelations, the notes on a first edition of Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone show that the original Hufflepuff mascot was a bear, not a badger, and that Quidditch was invented "in a small hotel in Manchester after a row with my then boyfriend." Also charming are Seamus Heaney's notes on Death of a Naturalist — he wrote on his poem At A Potato Digging that "[Poet] Anthony Thwaite once described me (to my face) as 'laureate of the root vegetable.' "
- A new postage stamp in Ireland has an entire short story printed on its surface. Written by an Irish teenager, the 224-word story is an ode to Dublin. Here's an excerpt: "Now, where Norsemen once stood, I look back, along the quays, streets and alleys, to where the inhabitants live their lives: eating, speaking, and breathing their city into existence."
- In a review of Tom Drury's Pacific for The New York Times, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) explains, with his characteristic bluntness, the problem with talking about "Midwestern" literature: "Calling a writer 'Midwestern' seems like a way to start up that familiar and imaginary battle between Plain Novels Full of People With Integrity and Dirty Fingernails versus Showoffy Books About People Having Martinis in Penthouses."
- Critic and author Greil Marcus argued that the distinctions between "high" and "low" culture are artificial in a commencement address at New York City's School of Visual Arts: "I've always believed that the divisions between high art and low art, between high culture, which really ought to be called 'sanctified culture,' and what's sometimes called popular culture, but really ought to be called 'everyday culture' — the culture of anyone's everyday life, the music I listen to, the movies you see, the advertisements that infuriate us and that sometimes we find so thrilling, so moving — I've always believed that these divisions are false."
The Best Books Coming Out This Week:
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur, an incomplete epic poem on King Arthur, has been edited for publication by his son, Christopher Tolkien, and newly released. Erudite and beautiful, it's written in Old English alliterative verse (the meter of Beowulf!). It begins: "Arthur eastward in arms purposed/ his war to wage on the wild marches, / over seas sailing to Saxon lands, / from the Roman realm ruin defending."
- NoViolet Bulawayo's We Need New Names is the story of Darling, a young girl who flees to the U.S. from the strife and corruption of President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. But, interestingly, We Need New Names is nearly as incisive about the American immigrant experience as it is about the failings of Mugabe's regime.
- The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, from The New Yorker's George Packer, argues that basic American institutions - farms, schools, factories — are collapsing. On Weekend Edition Sunday, he told NPR's Rachel Martin that "it feels like a real cultural shift where the value of the community, of what makes this a coherent society has really been submerged." He illustrates his point with fascinating profiles of Americans from Oprah Winfrey to a North Carolina tobacco farmer to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.
* Some of the language in the summaries above has been provided by publishers.