I could tell you, but then I’d have to…
No; you know what? You’re right. It’s time I came clean.
These days, short, real-word URLs are hard to come by. It wasn’t always that way, though. Back when Tumblr was first created, David Karp and Marco Arment were drinking beers late one night and got into an argument about whether the site would ever amount to anything. As I heard the story, Marco was teasing David that if he (David) really believed Tumblr was going to be such a big success, he should set aside some really choice URLs now, before they were snapped up by the same bottom-feeders who’ve locked up all the cool Internet domain names. I don’t know how seriously David took it; he probably was just playing along with the gag. But in any case, he actually did it: set aside some of the coolest Tumblr URLs.
Fast-forward a few years, and Tumblr has become super-popular. It’s still mostly a thing among the young, though. In the run-up to what became the Yahoo sale, there apparently was some discussion at one point by the Tumblr leadership that one thing they could do to make Tumblr seem more attractive to a big-money buyer would be to get some old-school bloggers to switch to using it.
It sounds ridiculous, I realize. I don’t have any actual experience shepherding $1.1 billion sales into reality, though, so who am I to judge?
Anyway, to make a long story short, some feelers were put out to some older bloggers. Would we consider switching to Tumblr? I was surprised to be one of the people they approached; it wasn’t like I was a big-name blogger with a large following, but my pre-Tumblr blog at lies.com had been continuously published since 1996, so I guess that counted for something?
I’d never met David Karp, but I had a brief chat once with Marco at an O’Reilly conference where I was doing a book signing for the Perl book I wrote, and apparently he remembered me, and I suspect that may have been a factor, too. Because it was Marco who sent me the email asking if I’d consider switching to Tumblr. (He wasn’t still with Tumblr at that point, but apparently he was helping out with the old-fogey-bloggers initiative as a personal favor to David.)
That email eventually led to a phone call, in the course of which I confessed to being really flattered, but eventually told Marco that honestly, I was just too attached to my WordPress blog at lies.com.
“I can appreciate that,” he said. “But tell me: Is there anything I could do to get you to switch?”
I chuckled. “Well, for me to even think about it I’d have to be able to blog at lies.tumblr.com, and I can’t imagine that’s available. But seriously, thanks again for asking. We should get together for a beer the next time you’re in t—”
“Hold it,” he said, and then started laughing. “Let me get back to you.”
A half-hour later he called me back. “Done,” he said. “If you’re willing to switch to Tumblr, the ‘lies’ URL is yours.” It turns out that ‘lies’ was one of the cool URLs they’d set aside back in the day, and it was still available, and they were willing to let me have it.
I could hardly refuse at that point, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Whew. I’m so glad I finally got that off my chest.
(Warning: The usual disclaimer applies.)
Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/54739786097.