Giphy raises a $72M D round

by Barry Schuler, DFJ Partner

Back in 1987 before the Internet was a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, a software engineer at the online service Compuserve invented the GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) as a way of delivering compressed images over the bandwidth-challenged dial-up services of that era. When asked how to pronounce it, he replied “Jif” as in the peanut butter.

That was practically prehistoric times in WWW years. Today the Internet sizzles with GIFs, creative video morsels that add expression to everything from content to messages. The epicenter of the GIF explosion is Giphy, the company that has put the hard G into GIFs. That’s right, the original peanut buttery file format has evolved into short-form looping videos that Giphy has helped make ubiquitous, now pronounced GIF not JIF . DFJ Growth is proud to have led a $72 million growth round and welcome CEO Alex Chung and the entire team to the DFJ family.

Giphy began life by building a GIF search engine to make it easy to discover GIFs from across the Web. For the first time you could easily find a perfect tidbit to add zing to your instant message. Then they went on to build a full stack of creation tools making it easy to author and customize GIFs. Then they developed content partnerships throughout the media industry in order to “Giphy” everything from the latest episode of Game of Thrones or The Simpsons. They also launched Giphy Studios in LA where they crank out the loops. If you’ve ever been on Twitter while watching a live event like the Academy Awards or Saturday Night Live you’ll see the sassy GIF memes flying fast and furious as Giphy Studios produces them in real-time.

Today’s Internet is chock-full of video content of all types, but attention-challenged consumers just don’t have the personal bandwidth for many long form videos. This is where the GIF shines with it’s ability to provide maximum expression in a microburst. And if you were momentarily distracted by a Snapchat alert — no worries — that GIF loop will just keep going and going. No wonder people want to add GIF expressions to all of their content. Giphy has made it really easy by working closely with the major message Apps — from Slack to Facebook Messenger to Apple’s iMessage. This places access to Giphy directly into the message box putting the latest clever Simpson’s riff right at your fingertips.

The medium is the message

The famous phrase “the medium is the message” was coined by Marshall McLuhan in his classic 1964 work Understanding Media. While oft quoted, the meaning is typically misconstrued to mean that distribution (the medium) is more important than content (the message). When McLuhan referred to “the medium” he was not referring to media such as TV or radio, but rather a medium from which things grow, like a planting medium for vegetation. His thought was that the medium will germinate ideas in the form of messages that cause impact and change. This couldn’t be a more apt description of the GIF and its potential to deliver marketing messages in a concise and entertaining manner.

Giphy’s audience is exploding, now clocking in over 100 million daily active users serving up more than one billion GIFs for a total of two million hours viewed every day. The Giphy team believes they are well on their way to creating a major new media company (think GiphyTV). We at DFJ agree and look forward to being a part of the Journey.

Barry Schuler is a partner at DFJ

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