One team of unaffiliated mobile developers became Tumblr’s Richmond office after building a bangin’ third party app. But other independent developers working with Tumblr from the outside have had less luck. That includes Jeremy Culter, whose popular “Missing e” extension is a thorn in Tumblr’s side, and Windows Phone developer Steven Pears, who tumbled heartbreakingly about lack of communication with the Tumblr team. Mr. Pears’s story prompted a mea culpa from Tumblr founder David Karp back in November: “We’ve been letting down our developer community,” the founder wrote. Mr. Karp cited the lack of dedicated developer support.
But Tumblr may be getting serious about interfacing with its eager developer public. The startup just posted a job listing for an “API Lead” to supervise the interface for, and interfacing with, independent developers. “Tumblr is looking for a software engineer to head up development of our external APIs, and act as liaison to the development community at large,” the listing reads. “For this role, we’re targeting the most elusive combination of skills: the social programmer. If your ideal day consists of equal parts blogging, coding, and preparing for your next speaking event, let’s chat.”
Tumblr’s third party app ecosystem is significant. A subset of rebloggy Tumblr fans panicked earlier this month when Tumblr changed its terms of service, which appeared to say the company could delete blogs of users who use Tumblr-specific browser add-ons to, say, make the Tumblr dashboard black “instead of that hideous blue.” Tumblr had to soothe users by clarifying that the rules weren’t changing and their accounts wouldn’t be harmed.
The ambiguous “developer evangelist” title is popping up more and more at startups as APIs become de rigueur.