Giphy COO Adam Leibsohn recently explained that looped images -- or GIFs -- are more than simply a fun pastime. By sending GIFs from the '90s sitcom Seinfeld to his mother, he said their relationship improved. Previously, Leibsohn would ignore her page-long text messages.
"They [GIF]s are a Venn diagram of expression and culture," he said back in June, at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn. "It's how we see the world around us. It speaks to something in our DNA, and it happens to be the best way to communicate visually."
Millennials seem to agree. On Wednesday morning, Giphy announced in a Medium post that it has surpassed 100 million daily active users, who are sending more than one billion GIFs to each other each day. That would place the company's audience at roughly two-thirds that of Snapchat, the social-media behemoth reportedly planning for an IPO by March of next year. Since launching in 2013, Giphy, which is based in New York City, has served up more than half a trillion GIFs based on references to movies, television, sports, politics, and more.
The company is essentially a search engine for GIFs. And while users can access Giphy by connecting through third-party apps and messaging services (i.e. Facebook Messenger, Slack, Tinder, and Twitter), the company now claims that a "big chunk" of daily traffic comes from its own website and app. It has inked deals with most major television networks and sports leagues, according to Leibsohn, as well as with political parties like the GOP and DNC. Recently, Giphy partnered with the creators of Saturday Night Live to "live-GIF" every broadcast and generate an SNL-themed library of content.
With the existing support of some high-profile investors, Giphy also announced Wednesday that GV (the investment firm previously known as Google Ventures) has joined the $55 million Series C funding round it closed in February, which was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. To date, Giphy has raised more than $75 million in funding, for a reported $300 million valuation.
"It became clear this was as much about communication," said GV partner M.G. Siegler of his decision to invest in the company, in an interview with Forbes.
Still, it's worth flagging that Giphy, which counts around 52 total employees at its office in New York and studio in Los Angeles, has yet to generate any significant revenue. While the company has not disclosed how it plans to do so in future, it's safe to assume that it plans to go the way of advertisements.
"Our core experience is search," Leibsohn tells me. "We're a search engine powering Facebook, Twitter, and Slack, with a lot more coming. If you look around the world, there are other search engines, and they make money in some pretty obvious ways. You can probably draw a connection."
Giphy also works directly with a number of companies to generate promotional content and licenses out its API to businesses for free.