The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with participation from General Catalyst Partners, RRE, Betaworks, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, CAA and other existing Giphy investors.
Giphy launched out of betaworks back in 2013 with one goal: to let the world search, discover, and share GIFs. The company acts a lot like Google, letting users upload and tag GIFs to make them searchable on the web and through Giphy’s native mobile apps.
But Giphy has expanded quite a bit since launch, offering ‘live GIFing” tools for media networks and publishers to use GIFs in their own content. These tools let media folks turn live events (like the Grammys and the Emmys) into instantly shareable GIFs, with an entire team at Giphy dedicated to transforming a live event into a library of searchable GIF content.
But perhaps most exciting is Giphy’s integrations with chat platforms like Slack and Facebook Messenger.
Shockingly enough, Giphy is not yet monetizing. That said, the $300 million valuation makes sense when you think of all the various and likely quite lucrative paths that Giphy could take toward revenue generation.
The most obvious revenue stream could come from ‘ad words’, where a Giphy search could turn up sponsored content based on what the user was looking for. If it worked for Google, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work for Giphy, and founder and CEO Alex Chung hinted on the phone that this would likely be the main source of revenue for Giphy when it decides to flip the switch.
But there are a number of other routes toward monetization that are far more innovative.
For example, Giphy could be one of the first companies to truly monetize advertising within messaging.
Giphy currently uses its Translate tool to power GIFs in Slack, letting users type /giphy (any word here) and instantly bring up a surprise GIF. So imagine if you wanted to send out “/giphy hungry” to your teammates and a McDonald’s GIF appeared, or if you sent out “/giphy monday morning” and a Starbucks GIF appeared.
In a lot of ways, this potential revenue stream could not only be lucrative for Giphy, but could turn users of messaging services like Slack and Facebook into brand ambassadors by simply chatting with their friends and coworkers.
Which brings me to user generated content. Chung and his team have been thinking a lot about what they dub UGC marketing as it relates to Giphy Cam and the entire Giphy portfolio.
Giphy Cam, the company’s first GIF creation app, currently lets users add filters to the GIFs they create, with brands like Star Wars, Zoolander and X-Files creating their own custom filters for the app. There is no money being exchanged on these existing deals, as Giphy is working to build out as many strong partnerships as possible.
But when all a brand has to do is build a few filters and instantly see thousands of people sharing that brands content (and getting millions of views), it would be easy to see how Giphy could turn that into some serious cash.
Giphy’s new round of funding will likely pave the way for monetization in the coming months, though Chung was quiet when asked for an exact timeline.
You can learn more about Giphy here.