Aug 07, 2018

Role Models: David Karp

By: Russ Zalatimo

Role Models is a series dedicated to those individuals who are pushing their passions forward in the world of business and beyond. From well-known figures to everyday success stories, we will highlight their achievements as we work to inspire our everyday lives.


New school entrepreneurs are a curious breed, as they move into ventures that are traditionally unorthodox and find new ways to succeed. David Karp is arguably a trailblazer through his unmatched moves in taking one blogging platform to previously unreachable heights. However, it all started with an internship.


As a teen, the New York City native scored his first internship with Fred Seibert, known for his Frederator Studios that not only had major wins with established networks like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, but also later with Netflix and YouTube. Karp absorbed everything he learned from Seibert, having started interning at 14 and later became homeschooled. It was there that Karp mastered Japanese and Math, utilizing his genius for software engineering. From Poker and Blackjack tricks to later becoming the Head of Product for UrbanBaby at only 17 (along with owning shares in the company), it was clear that Karp was a visionary. He moved to Tokyo by himself to continue learning, and in 2006 when UrbanBaby was sold to CNET, Karp left the company, sold his shares, and used that equity to start his own venture, Davidville.


Davidville was the catalyst for Karp’s greatest gamechanger: Tumblr. In 2007, the blogging platform was formed, revolutionized how users place their thoughts through what was known as “tumbleblogging.” Ultimately, Davidville became Tumblr, as the company grew so wide that Karp couldn’t fit any more clients into his roster. In 2013, Tumblr was sold to Yahoo for a cool $1.1 billion and Karp was able to stay on as Tumblr’s CEO. However, in November of 2017, David Karp retired at the age of 31. “The internet is at a crossroads of which this team can play a fundamental role in shaping,” Karp wrote in his retirement letter. “You are in the driver seat, and I am so excited to see where you go!”


While Karp has not announced any plans in the foreseeable future of adding new business ventures to his C.V., he is an advocate for causes he’s passionate about. A member of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood since 2014, Karp brought Tumblr into the mix in 2017 by making a call to action for the tech industry to stand behind the organization. He also endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in 2016 and has also backed smaller companies in different ways, including event-marketing company Splash, Superpedestrian, Inc., and healthcare industry app Sherpaa.


As entrepreneurs, there is often a desire to stick to one facet of your business and simply employ professionals for the things to which you lack experience. While that’s a smart move, Karp also proves that having a well-rounded understanding of the ins and outs of your business can help you see opportunities early and seize them. You don’t have to be the expert in every one of your company’s departments, but knowing how they all work is vital.


Will David Karp re-emerge with another new idea? Possibly. However, his trajectory is one that many often fantasize about: starting early and finishing early, yet remaining on top. It’s in no way a reflection of success rate by age, but it does show that when a seed is planted, let it grow. David Karp knew at 14 where he wanted to go, and it paid off.

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R M Zalatimo
R M Zalatimo
Inspire. Empower. Transform. Those are the words that NYC Wealth Innovator, Russ Zalatimo, lives by. From tips on leadership, self-help, and growing entrepreneurship Zalatimo provides the trade secrets to leading a well-rounded life.