Betabeat’s just recieved word from three different sources familiar with the situation that Tumblr’s Rich Tong, Tumblr’s Fashion Director, is on his way out of the company.We’re told that Mr. Tong sent an email out to a list of friends tonight saying as much, with “further details to come.” Why the breakup? Another source familiar with the situation explained that Mr. Tong—who’s been out of the office for much of the last three weeks, and whose diminishing presence has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the staff—saw himself in a much more “entrepreneurial” light than the capacity his job had him working in, which was a much more “ambassador”-esque role with regards to helping fashion brands become acquainted with Tumblr.
Earlier this year, Mr. Tong found himself in the middle of a fashion-related fiasco, wherein two brand managers criticized Mr. Tong for his inability to provide analytics for brands, and failure to cultivate relationships with brands who adopted Tumblr as a platform early on. Things got much worse when Tumblr’s proposal for fashion brands participating in Fashion Week—an unofficial pay-for-play, essentially—leaked out:
The proposal asked for $100,000 to have 4 of Tumblr’s “select bloggers” produce 15 posts for the brand’s Tumblr during the week, with the “exact nature of the content to be agreed upon prior to the start of the week.” For $150,000 brands could get ad placement on the official NY Fashion week Tumblr. For $350,000 they could get ad placement on the Tumblr tagged “fashion” page. For $10,000 big fashion brands could spend a little quality time with the 20 select bloggers at a private event. Product placement was also offered “At cost”, with the “influential tastemakers” being promised at a group rate.
“Entrepreneurial,” indeed. More trouble struck when the legality of such a proposal was questioned:
Tumblr had no formal contract with any of these bloggers. In fact, the bloggers Betabeat spoke with had no idea their services were being promised, no clue about the terms of the proposal and were blissfully ignorant that Tumblr was asking to be paid hefty sums for their work.
Mr. Tong started at Tumblr October 2010. Both Tumblr and Rich Tong have not responded to immediate requests for comment. We’ll update if we hear more. Know more? Give us a shout.
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