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Startup Spotlight: Giphy and the visual language of GIFs

GIF database Giphy was founded in 2013, and allows users to search for and share GIFs with others, as well as create their own. What is a GIF? To the u...

William Smith
|May 20|magazine13 min read

GIF database Giphy was founded in 2013, and allows users to search for and share GIFs with others, as well as create their own.

What is a GIF? To the uninitiated, a GIF refers to a short looping video, the name referring to a popular filetype used. In the context of messaging others, GIFs are commonly deployed as a kind of super-emoji, to suggest an emotion or feeling.

Business Overview:

GIPHY is an American online database and search engine that allows users to search for and share short looping videos with no sound, that resemble animated GIF form videos. The platform allows you to create and share gifs with anyone. 

The tool is free for anyone to access.

Its growth: 

In August 2013, Giphy expanded beyond a search engine to allow users to post, embed and share GIFs on Facebook. Three months later Giphy integrated with Twitter to enable users to share GIFs by simply sharing a GIF's URL.

In May 2014, Giphy raised $2.4 million in a Series A funding round from investors, including Quire, CAA Ventures, RRE Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Betaworks

.In January 2015, Giphy received another $17 million in a Series B funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from General Catalyst and former investors. In addition, Giphy raised a large portion of the Series B round via Alphaworks’s equity crowdfunding platform.

In March 2015, Giphy acquired Nutmeg, a GIF messaging service, as one of the company's first major steps towards the mobile industry. This coincided with the launch of Facebook Messenger's own development platform, in which Giphy joined a few exclusive apps in its debut.

In August 2015, it launched its second mobile app, GIPHY Cam, which allows users to create and share GIFs on a social network.

In February 2016, the company raised $55 million in funding at a $300 million valuation.

In October 2016, they announced several statistics, including the statement that it had 100 million daily active users, that it served over 1 billion GIFs per day, and that visitors watched more than 2 million hours of GIF content every day.

In July 2017, they announced that it had 200 million daily active users between both the API and website, with around 250 million monthly active users on the website.

Chung announced in a February 2019 New York event that Giphy was exploring an advertising scheme that is distinguished from the Google model, which shows ads according to users' search histories. The idea is to embed advertising in private messages. Giphy is seeking to take advantage of this landscape since the GIG database has been integrated into most messaging services.

And recently it has been announced that Facebook has acquired the shorty video platform. 

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Of course, the big news surrounding Giphy of late is its acquisition by Facebook, which is integrating the company into its Instagram division. Giphy has long been integrated via an API with Facebook’s services including Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram.

In a blog post, Vishal Shah, VP of Product, said: “A lot of people in our community already know and love GIPHY. In fact, 50% of GIPHY’s traffic comes from the Facebook family of apps, half of that from Instagram alone. By bringing Instagram and GIPHY together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect GIFs and stickers in Stories and Direct. Both our services are big supporters of the creator and artist community, and that will continue. Together, we can make it easier for anyone to create and share their work with the world.

According to Facebook, 50% of Giphy’s traffic comes from Facebook’s platforms, with half of that from Instagram alone. “By bringing Instagram and Giphy together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect Gifs and stickers in Stories and Direct,” said Vishal Shah, Facebook’s vice president of product. “Both our services are big supporters of the creator and artist community, and that will continue. “Together, we can make it easier for anyone to create and share their work with the world. ”People can currently share Gifs from Giphy on Facebook rivals such as Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

“GIPHY will continue to operate its library (including its global content collection), and we’re looking forward to investing further in its technology and relationships with content and API partners. People will still be able to upload GIFs; developers and API partners will continue to have the same access to GIPHY’s APIs, and GIPHY’s creative community will still be able to create great content.”

Find out more about the company, here.