Microblogging and social networking website Tumblr, which has lost a chunk of users because of its ban on porn content, has now changed ownership for the third time in six years. Its new owner is Automattic Inc., the web development corporation that owns free blogging service, WordPress.com.

Automattic on Monday said it took ownership of Tumblr for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition of Tumblr is Automattic’s fourth corporate takeover since its founding in 2005 -- and its largest.

Under the deal, Automattic will take on 200 Tumblr employees as part of the exchange. It currently has about 1,000 employees.

Tumblr was previously owned by Verizon Media and Yahoo!, which bought the microblogging site for $1.1 billionin July 2013. Verizon Media is the subsidiary of Verizon Communications serving as the umbrella company of its media and online properties.

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said the acquisition of Tumblr is his company's largest acquisition both in terms of cost and staff count. He said Automattic will still ban adult content on Tumblr because he sees the microblogging site as "just fun."

Analysts point out the blame for some of Tumblr’s continuing user decline sprang directly from the company’s decision to ban porn and other adult material from the site. By May 2013, before Yahoo! took it over, over a fifth of Tumblr’s’ traffic was from porn.

Tumblr’s decision in December 2018 to ban NSFW (not safe for work) content had the practical effect of evicting Tumblr’s huge and loyal base of bloggers. It left these people no viable platform for independent adult content creators and curators. These people have since become “porn refugees.”

Before Automattic’s buy-in, Canadian porn website Pornhub was widely seen as the likely new owner of Tumblr. Last May, Pornhub went so far as to hint of its interest in acquiring Tumblr.

Pornhub Vice President Corey Price said Pornhub is "extremely interested" in buying Tumblr, and planned to restore Tumblr's NSFW reputation -- if and when this deal pushed through -- which it didn't. Pornhub is owned by MindGeek, one of the leading porn businesses worldwide.

Tumblr Tumblr porn ban is already flagging innocent posts as adult content. Photo: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

"Tumblr was a safe haven for those who wanted to explore and express their sexuality, adult entertainment aficionados included," said Price.

"We’ve long been dismayed that such measures were taken to eradicate erotic communities on the platform, leaving many individuals without an asylum through which they could comfortably peruse adult content."

Analysts said Automattic faces the challenge of persuading users Tumblr can uphold the controversial decision to ban porn as it struggles to make a viable non-porn business. Tumblr’s user base stands at 475 million blogs, but this number and the site’s influence pales in comparison to those in previous years.