And by selling ads against people’s identities, rather than their creative content, the company has churned out impressive profits, and given a wider impression that an ad-supported content platform is viable.(One of the great ironies of Twitter’s and Tumblr’s inability to make sustained profits is that Instagram and Facebook are both full of videos and posts screenshotted and stolen from their more productive, less wealthy rival platforms.) But the truth is that running a platform for culture creation is, increasingly, a charity operation undertaken by larger companies.

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It can be easy, in the era of just a handful of megaplatforms, to forget that the internet used to be a much more decentralized place, where things went viral across disparate platforms and websites and forum threads, rather than within a single one.

All of this is running in parallel to a larger internet movement away from public spaces: group messaging, private forums, and chat rooms, ephemerality.

Reddit, the so-called “front page of the internet,” has been unable to fully capitalize on its enormous audience and influence, even after being purchased by Condé Nast (which it then spun out again; Condé Nast is very careful to specify that it own Reddit, though its parent company Advance Publications is a majority stakeholder).

4chan, whatever else you might think of it, is probably the most influential single website of the last decade, but its owner Hiroyuki Nishimura has said he is likely to shut it down.

But with a small handful of exceptions, the advertising riches never really materialized.

There are many reasons for this — for one thing, it’s tough to sell a high-quality ad experience to executives at Coca-Cola when you first have to explain what a meme is and why it’s “viral.” On top of all that, there are reams of porn, hate speech, copyright infringement, and more porn floating around on these platforms, easily accidentally placed adjacent to a company’s studiously inoffensive ad.Looked at from a bottom-line perspective, Tumblr is an also-ran like its parent company — a once-hot start-up that has eased into tech-industry irrelevance.Looked at from another angle, however, Tumblr is among the most important sites online — a central hub of what is nebulously known as “internet culture.” Most recently, the site gave us Dat Boi, the unicycling frog, but Tumblr’s most famous legacy is probably the reaction GIF, which was popularized by Tumblr accounts like What Should We Call Me.Which means Tumblr has to hope for patience and kindness from Verizon while it seeks a way to make money.It’s not an impossible task (though Verizon’s hope that Yahoo will be the content arm of a major advertising operation is not promising for the company).Earlier this month, Verizon completed its acquisition of Yahoo, incorporating the internet-portal pioneer’s slate of brands under a new umbrella corporation named, ominously, Oath.