Giphy — the betaworks-backed platform for searching and sharing gifs — has just raised $17 million in Series B funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from General Catalyst and previous investors such as Lerer-Hippeau, betaworks, RRE Ventures, and CAA Ventures. A chunk of the round, $225k, is being raised through the Alphaworks equity crowdfunding platform.
The investment values Giphy at $80 million, and TechCrunch sources say that the Giphy team originally started shopping for the round in October, but got distracted by potential acquisition talks from Facebook. In the end, Giphy chose to continue pursuing partnerships with various social media companies and focus on the financing.
The financing will go toward growth, specifically hiring out more engineers and building out products, API partnerships, distribution partnerships, and the general user base. At this point in time, Giphy has no plans for revenue (at least not any that they’ll share with me).
“We have a pretty big product roadmap planned for 2015,” said COO Adam Leibsohn. “There is lots of really cool stuff coming out, like some incredible gif-making tools. We’ve learned a lot over the last year about what we need and what gif lovers need, so we’re building against that knowledge base.”
Put simply, Giphy is a search engine for gifs. The company tags gifs to certain categories or with various keywords to make finding the perfect gif that much easier.
And beyond that, Giphy ensures that artists are credited for their works and offers distribution tools to help spread the word. For example, Giphy launched a link shortener that automatically embeds a clickable gif into tweets instead of taking up characters with the gif link and the intended hyperlink.
“Time and time again we’ve seen in the world of startups that if a product is defined in a single vertical that people associate the product with that vertical,” said John Borthwick, managing partner at betaworks. “Google has a gif search thing somewhere, but it’s one of two bazillion features on Google. The advantage that Giphy and other vertical platforms have is that people come thinking, ‘I want gifs.’ They’re thinking of media type first.”
The team, which started with about six people and has grown to 16, still works out of the betaworks office in NY, but Leibsohn says they’re currently looking for office space.
“The biggest challenge to us right now is… We want everyone to know, love and use gifs,” said Leibsohn. “There’s a lot to unpack in there, plenty of which is challenging. The easiest way to put the challenges ahead of Giphy is that I want my mom to use gifs. Everyday.”