David Karp, who founded and launched Tumblr in 2007 when he was just 20, is stepping down as CEO. Image: Compfight

Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp announced this Monday that we would step down from his position at the end of the year, leaving both the company he created and Yahoo’s new merger with Verizon: Oath. The executive cited only “personal ambitions” among his reasons to leave, but there might be other factors.

Karp was at the helm of the blogging site since its inception in 2007, and recently it struggled to stay relevant and profitable in a world where other social media giants add distinctive features regularly as they seek to captivate new audiences and keep old users.

It is unclear whether there are any other reasons for Karp’s departure, but many believe the timing is too convenient for an exit given the current battle for net neutrality in the United States. Tumblr is a fierce advocate of keeping the internet open, while its parent company not so much.

Karp’s “personal ambitions” will take him somewhere else

On his announcement/goodbye letter to the team at Tumblr, Karp thanked everyone he had had the opportunity to work with, including chief of operations Jeff D’Onofrio who will step in as CEO by the end of the year.

As for the why, the Tumblr founder only said he had been contemplating the chances to leave for months now, and that he had finally chosen to take the step to pursue some personal ambitions he had put on hold for a while.

What those ambitions might be is anyone’s guess, but it is almost safe to assume that anything that follows Tumblr should be at least as thought-provoking, culturally significant, divisive, disruptive and innovative as the blogging site/gif hub/pop culture haven.

Net neutrality might have something to do with Karp’s exit

Of course, looking for more concrete reasons for his departure has led many to point out the obvious elephant in the room. The Verizon acquisition of Yahoo effectively neutralizes any calls for action from the internet giant, and Karp might not have felt comfortable being a part of a mega-corporation that wants to end net neutrality regulation.

In fact, some outlets have looked closer to the fact that, upon reorganizing into the single, almighty Oath consortium, neither Yahoo nor Verizon listed any position for David Karp among their ranks. This also suggests that his exit has been impending for a while, but the CEO decided to disclose it in his own terms.

Being at the helm of Tumblr at a time like this will certainly be difficult for D’Onofrio, who will have to choose between staying silent and being complicit to his parent company’s ideas or standing up against it to challenge what would be a highly profitable future for both of them if net neutrality rules get repealed next month.

Source: David’s Log