Giphy, a visual search engine that launched two years ago, just raised a $US17 million Series B round of financing at an $US80 million post-money valuation.
Lightspeed Venture Partners, which also invested in Snapchat and Whisper, led the round. General Catalyst participated in the financing as well as previous investors Lerer-Hippeau, RRE Ventures, CAA Ventures and Betaworks. The company has raised $US20.5 million to date.
Giphy was founded by Alex Chung and Jace Cooke in February 2013 in a New York startup incubator, Betaworks. The pair were discussing how sometimes, words fall short. They’re good for describing objects, like trees or cars. But an image or GIF can express feelings, or words like “great” and “excited,” so much better.
(Giphy’s 15-person team, above)
There are now tens of millions of people searching for images on Giphy every month. Giphy serves more than 3 billion GIFs per month too. The company is becoming increasingly popular on mobile, even though Giphy doesn’t have an app. Its mobile-friendly website makes it easy to copy and paste a GIF into a text message or share it on social media. The company is receiving several hundred million API calls per month.
When you visit Giphy.com, you can search for any type of image. It’s adjective-friendly too. For example, if you search for “Happy Cat,” more than 330 images show up and at glance, most results all relevant.
Giphy will also be launching an easy way to make GIFS soon.
How big a business can GIFS possibly be? Other startups, like mobile GIF creator Cinemagram, have launched with a lot of traction then fizzled out. But sites like Tumblr have helped make GIFS extremely popular, and social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and messaging apps are making the visual content easier than ever to share. Giphy recently worked with mobile messaging company Line on an animated sticker contest. Even Barack Obama has shared Giphy’s content.
Jeremy Liew, who led the Giphy investment for Lightspeed, has been hunting for a startup in the sticker or GIF space for months.
“GIFs are a thing, you can’t not notice it happening,” says Liew. “I’m not that great at predicting the future, but I’m great at seeing what’s happening and not just saying, ‘Oh, that’s stupid.’ When you see a behaviour becoming more widespread, that’s not just a thing, that’s a trend. And if you believe GIFs are a trend then you say, ‘Who’s the leader?’ Well, it’s Giphy. It’s the place where you can go find whatever GIF you’re looking for. It makes GIF [discovery] super easy.”
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