An Inside Look At Tumblr Founder David Karp

Image via Flickr/ mathewb

David Karp didn’t plan to sell his company for more than a billion dollars this year. In an interview with Bloomberg’s Charlie Rose, the Tumblr founder discussed why he decided to sell his 6-year-old creation for $1.1 billion to Yahoo. But Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer spent several months convincing him a partnership would be in his—and Tumblr’s—best interest.

We knew we would working together,” he said, but “when Marissa showed up in New York, she walked me down a story of how we can do even more together.

Mayer wanted Yahoo to acquire Tumblr because she was “looking for a future for Yahoo, a path forward and growth,” Karp said. Meanwhile, Mayer convinced him that allowing Yahoo to acquire his company would help him sidestep difficult growing pains most companies deal with after they reach a certain size. “This was an unbelievable opportunity to shortcut all the very hard things that we are about to be growing through,” Karp added.

Now Karp hopes to utilize Yahoo’s “legacy, and a huge amount of resources around all the business stuff that Tumblr was about to go through,” as well as its “big honkin’ salesforce.

Pretty impressive for a high-school dropout. Although Karp was never a slacker when it came to learning. In his interview with Rose, Karp explained why he dropped out of school, and how it led to his current success.

I had a lot of dumb luck along the way and some very enabling parents.

Most people associate “enabling parents” with those who allow their children—spoiled, selfish brats—to run the show. But Karp says his parents supported him along his path to success “and really pushed me… either pushed me or set me up to find my way.

And Karp found his life’s purpose at a young age when he discovered his love of code writing at the tender age of 11. But at that time, high schools—even the prestigious Bronx High School of Science he attended—offered little in terms of computer science courses.

And that was the real reason I dropped out of school. It wasn’t ‘screw this.’ It wasn’t that I was bored. It wasn’t that my friends are so lame. I was actually enjoying school,” Karp explained.

Karp’s mother allowed him to home school from the age of 14, through which he learned Japanese and studied with a math tutor, all while interning at an animation-production company. But by the time he was 16, it became clear Karp’s future would not rely on schoolbooks when he began working for a Web site.

Although he never earned his high school diploma, Karp’s mother told the AP she recognized “he needed the time in the day in order to create.

Still, Karp recognizes his was a unique scenario, and doesn’t recommend other students drop out early, even to pursue their dreams.

That is not a path that I would haphazardly recommend to kids out there,” Karp explained to the Associated Press. “I was in a very unique position of knowing exactly what I wanted to do at a time when computer science education certainly wasn’t that good in high school in New York City.