Those familiar with social media and meme culture know that GIFs are an important form of media these days. One of the largest GIF-making and sharing websites, Giphy, is now being purchased by Facebook for a reported sum of $400 million.
Axios first reported the deal and the supposed acquisition price. Facebook is planning to integrate Giphy’s massive library of GIFs into its apps—including Instagram. Considering that the platform is also used by other social media companies, it could create some tension in the future.
Sign of the Times
At face value, Giphy doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile investment for Facebook. After all, it won’t lead to new revenue like its purchase of Oculus. Likewise, it won’t help futureproof Facebook’s platform against changes in the future. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a smart move.
Internet users love GIFs (whichever way you pronounce it). Integrating the world’s largest GIF site into Facebook will give users a more seamless way to create, send, and edit GIFs directly on the platform. Users won’t have to leave Facebook to do so and won’t have to rely on a search API tool to find comedic animated images.
Facebook says, “Giphy makes everyday conversations more entertaining, and so we plan to further integrate their GIF library into Instagram and our other apps so that people can find just the right way to express themselves.”
For years, both Facebook and Instagram have relied on Giphy’s API. It is also integrated into Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Combined, those four services have a massive user base. Facebook notes that half of all of Giphy’s traffic comes from its apps—claiming that a quarter of it is from Instagram alone.
Moving forward, Giphy will be brought into the Facebook family as part of the Instagram team. Engineers will work on making it easier to find and send GIFs and stickers in both Instagram stories and direct messages. As of now, it appears that things will stay the same for Giphy users.
Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product writes in a blog post, “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.”
The API partners are particularly noteworthy. Platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Slack, Reddit, and more all rely on Giphy’s services to let users send GIFs. Although Facebook says that those platforms will still be able to use the API for now, it could complicate things in the future.
Facebook doesn’t typically work together with its social media platform competitors. Should it choose to bring Giphy fully in-house and limit its outside use to non-competitors, the Internet may riot. Or, perhaps, another GIF-making platform will simply rise up to take its place.