Zach Inglis, a 25-year old web developer based in London and passionate Tumblr user (well, it’s complicated) hit Digg.com and Hacker News in 2010 with an inflammatory blog post titled “Why Tumblr Sucks” after frustrations with downtime, features, customer service, and ultimately, a bumpy attempt at hosting a Tumblr meetup in London, for which he did not receive the promised stickers. “I do think that their complete lack of care for their product should be known, so others do not make the same mistake I have,” he wrote at the time; he also created snarksite http://istumblrdown.com. Those efforts might be written-off by Tumblr as trollish frustrations.
But Mr. Inglis is taking his Tumblr beef to the next level: He plans to create the “Facebook to Tumblr’s Myspace.” He’s spoken to CHINACCELERATOR, a TechStars-affiliated incubator in Dalian, northeast China, which he says extended an invitation for him and a developer to join in July in order to work on a Tumblr competitor, Betabeat learned. He just needs a Ruby developer to make the move and help him build it.
Mr. Inglis has been on Tumblr for five years–he switched his main website http://zachinglis.com, to WordPress, but went back to Tumblr for his personal site, http://zachinglis.me–and says he’s accumulated hundreds of thousands of followers–meaning he knows intimately what Tumblr’s weaknesses are.
“Anyone want to head out East with me next month to build up a company? Have investors, need Ruby developers (Serious.),” he tweeted yesterday. “I should have specified the Far East,” he followed up.
He actually won’t be the first Tumblr competitor in a Chinese incubator. Tumblr is blocked in China, leaving the playing field wide open for DianDian (点点), which translates to “bit-by-bit,” a feature-for-feature, rounded-corner-for-rounded-corner copy of Tumblr.
Will two developers in a Chinese incubator be able to come up with a viable version of Tumblr, which has metastasized into a 20 million blog empire? The company is up to 30+ employees–but it started with just two, David Karp and Marco Arment. Perhaps a more agile start-up might be able to replicate their success and, with the benefit of hindsight, avoid some of Tumblr’s problems.