Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

From high school drop-out to billionaire: previously coy Karp cashes in on Tumblr

Megan Levy (via SMH) | May 20, 2013
Karp, 26, now looks set to become the latest tech billionaire with reports that Yahoo's board has approved a deal to purchase Tumblr for $US1.1 billion in cash.

Set to make a fortune: David Karp.
Set to make a fortune: David Karp. Photo: Bloomberg

Five years ago, tech prodigy David Karp was determined that the business he founded in his mother's small New York apartment would not be absorbed by a multinational firm.

"We would really rather not be gobbled up by a big media company," then 21-year-old Karp, the creator of the blogging platform Tumblr, said in an interview with the New York Observer." 

But what if someone was throwing $US1.1 billion cash at you?

Karp, 26, now looks set to become the latest tech billionaire with reports that Yahoo's board has approved a deal to purchase Tumblr for $US1.1 billion in cash.

It's a mind-boggling amount of money for anyone, let alone a once socially awkward teenager who dropped out of high school at the age of 15.

Remarkably it was Karp's mother, teacher Barbara Ackerman, who suggested her son drop out of high school at the age of 15 so he could be home-schooled and continue an internship at an animation production company, Frederator Studios.

Yahoo! are expected to pay $US1.1 billion for Tumblr.

Yahoo is expected to pay $US1.1 billion for Tumblr. Photo: AFP

 Karp's mother recognised that, while her son was not particularly engaged with his classes or his fellow students, he seemed to thrive at the internship where he could talk easily with the company's coders and engineers.

It was a passion he had developed early, teaching himself how to code HTML at the age of 11.

Karp's mother told the New York Times that she could feel the sense of relief through her hand on her son's shoulder when she floated the idea to him.

Soon his career was taking off.

When an entrepreneur named John Maloney sought technical help with his start-up, UrbanBaby.com, a Frederator employee recommended Karp.

The project had to be done in a couple of days, but Karp did it in four hours. At the age of 16, Karp was made UrbanBaby's head of product, and he was given some equity in the company.

The following year Karp moved to Tokyo, where he lived for five months on his own.

It was there that he cooled on the idea of making robots, and instead decided to become an entrepreneur.

He told The Guardian that initially he would lie about his age when dealing with clients.

"I was so silly - I tried to be very formal and put on a deep voice to clients over the phone so I didn't have to meet them and give away how young I was," he said.

 

1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.