Is David Karp, who just sold his startup for $1.1 billion to Yahoo, another Steve Jobs?
That's what Tumblr's first employee believes.
Marco Arment says the 26-year-old Karp is very much like the late Apple co-founder.
Arment is no longer with Tumblr but was there through its early years, and on Monday he blogged about his experience. He said working for Karp felt the same as how many people have described what working for Jobs was like — both demanding an incredible amount of focus and dedication that inevitably creates high stress but also high-quality results.
"David has a lot of Steve Jobs-like qualities, and like many people who worked for Steve, I look back on Tumblr’s crunch times with mixed feelings: I don’t want to return to that stress level, but David pushed me to do amazing work that I didn’t think was possible," Arment wrote.
Arment said Karp demanded so much out of others because that's how hard he worked and how dedicated he is to Tumblr.
"David always obsessed over his newest ideas, features, and designs until they were completely polished and ready to go," Arment said in his blog. "He’s a workaholic — he truly lives and breathes Tumblr. I’ve never even seen him show any desire to work on a side project. David is all Tumblr, all the time."
The one thing Karp didn't like dealing with at Tumblr was the business side of the company. Arment said Karp can handle being a businessman, but his strengths were in pushing the product forward and always making it better.
"I’ve only seen one other 'product person' as good as David, and that was Steve Jobs," Arment said. "David has an impeccable sense of what’s best for Tumblr, and he doesn’t need anyone else telling him what’s best for the product."
That's why Arment believes Yahoo's acquisition of Tumblr will be a good thing for the social network, which is popular among teens and young adults. By keeping Karp in charge of the product itself and moving the business side of things to others, Tumblr now has the ideal setup it needed, Arment said.
"What Tumblr has always needed, is to get support and maintenance roles off of David’s plate so he can focus on the product," Arment said. "We — Internet users, creative people, publishers, socializers — will be much better served if David can focus on his product’s features, design, and messaging instead of worrying about server architecture and raising more money."
As for Arment, who is also the founder of the popular Instapaper app that lets users save articles to read later offline, he said the Yahoo acquisition will benefit him enough that he'll be able to work on whatever he wants and not have to worry about money.
"I won’t make yacht-and-helicopter money from the acquisition," he said. "But as long as I manage investments properly and don’t spend recklessly, Tumblr has given my family a strong safety net."
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