President Obama has taken to nearly every major internet platform to hold online chats with Americans, and today he added Tumblr to that list. Obama invited founder David Karp and Tumblr to the White House for an education-focused Q&A session. The mood was playful and at times surreal; Obama took one question from a user named "HaikuMoon" and even mentioned the online handle in his follow-up, drawing big laughs. (After that, he mostly stuck to calling people by their first name.) And yes, naturally there was a GIF to commemorate the president's first-ever Tumblr appearance.
"You wouldn't know it by looking at you, but you're like LeBron or Durant," Obama told Karp, the 27-year-old who sold Tumblr to Yahoo last year for around $1.1 billion. Obama used the Q&A to underline the importance of higher education and making college more affordable. Tumblr's users typically skew on the younger side, so it made for a good fit. "There are very few jobs where you're not going to need some advanced training," he said.
Karp briefly challenged this idea by pointing out that he — along with tech visionaries like Steve Jobs — had never finished college. Karp dropped out of high school in favor of homeschooling and never attended college. But Obama emphasized that stories like these are the exception, not the rule. "If you can do it, more power to you," he offered. "There are only going to be so many Zuckerbergs or Gates' who will be able to short-circuit the traditional path." Obama did deliver one piece of advice for students dreaming of changing the world with their own startup.
Ultimately, you are going to do best at something you care deeply for. But you still have to grind it out. You can get into the mindset where the effort and sweat you put in doesn’t feel like a burden. Your career isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes you have to take a job to pay the bills. And sometimes you take a big risk, like building something called Tumblr.
Our president just referred to someone as haikumoon, their online handle. We live in a magical time.— Devin Jessup (@kennokishi) June 10, 2014