When Giphy launched three years ago, it was a simple search engine that allowed you to locate GIFs of pop culture moments–Jennifer Lawrence tripping on the red carpet, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance, Drake’s epic dance moves–so that you could easily plop them into Facebook, Twitter, or text messages.
Since that time, GIFs have increasingly become part of social media vernacular. “We’ve seen the medium grow exponentially,” Simon Gibson, the director of marketing and acquisition at Giphy, tells Fast Company. “It’s fundamentally changing the way that we talk to each other.”
Instead of expressing an emotion like, for instance, “I feel like a idiot!”, it’s more nuanced if you use a GIF that captures the sentiment.
But Giphy, which in February announced that it had grown 500% from the year before and landed $55 million in Series C funding at a $300 million valuation, has much bigger goals. “We want to own every part of the GIF ecosystem from start to finish,” Gibson says.
The company is currently creating GIFs in conjunction with movie and TV studios, celebrities, companies, and even political campaigns so that these content producers are able to have more control over what goes out into the world. It also partners with events like the Academy Awards and the MTV Music Awards to live-GIF the show. When Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar earlier this year, for instance, Giphy captured his facial expression in a GIF and it went viral almost immediately.
Giphy also wants to put GIF-making tools in the hands of everyday users. Last August, it debuted the Giphy Cam, an app that allows you to create GIFs on your phone using photos and videos that you can then share directly on social media.
And today, it is releasing Giphy Capture, a desktop tool that lets users create GIFs from anything on their computer. This could mean a FaceTime chat, a video of your baby, a video game you are playing, or even a broadcast you’re streaming from your web browser. Like the Giphy Cam, Capture also comes with stickers and text functions that will make it easy to overlay the images with quotes. “This allows you to stylize and narrate GIFs,” explains Andy Hin, Giphy’s director of product and creation.
Hin says Capture will also be very valuable to brands that are looking to quickly create content for their social media channels. A sports league, for instance, could create a GIF of a key moment in the game–Steph Curry dunking or Lionel Messi scoring a goal–and share it immediately.
While pop culture moments get shared widely, user-generated GIFs will have a much smaller audience. If you create a GIF of your puppy doing a trick, for instance, you might only share it with your spouse or your Facebook friends. Still, for Giphy, it’s worth the effort since it wants individuals, as well as larger organizations, to default to Giphy for all things GIF. “We want to offer a toolbox of things to allow people and brands to nimbly, quickly, and easily create GIF content from stuff they already have,” Gibson says.