Startup Spotlight: Giphy and the visual language of GIFs
What is a GIF? To the u...
GIF database Giphy was founded in 2013, and allows users to search for and share GIFs with others, as well as create their own.
What is a GIF? To the uninitiated, a GIF refers to a short looping video, the name referring to a popular filetype used. In the context of messaging others, GIFs are commonly deployed as a kind of super-emoji, to suggest an emotion or feeling.
GIPHY is an American online database and search engine that allows users to search for and share short looping videos with no sound, that resemble animated GIF form videos. The platform allows you to create and share gifs with anyone.
The tool is free for anyone to access.
In August 2013, Giphy expanded beyond a search engine to allow users to post, embed and share GIFs on Facebook. Three months later Giphy integrated with Twitter to enable users to share GIFs by simply sharing a GIF's URL.
In May 2014, Giphy raised $2.4 million in a Series A funding round from investors, including Quire, CAA Ventures, RRE Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Betaworks
.In January 2015, Giphy received another $17 million in a Series B funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from General Catalyst and former investors. In addition, Giphy raised a large portion of the Series B round via Alphaworks’s equity crowdfunding platform.
In March 2015, Giphy acquired Nutmeg, a GIF messaging service, as one of the company's first major steps towards the mobile industry. This coincided with the launch of Facebook Messenger's own development platform, in which Giphy joined a few exclusive apps in its debut.
In August 2015, it launched its second mobile app, GIPHY Cam, which allows users to create and share GIFs on a social network.
In February 2016, the company raised $55 million in funding at a $300 million valuation.
In October 2016, they announced several statistics, including the statement that it had 100 million daily active users, that it served over 1 billion GIFs per day, and that visitors watched more than 2 million hours of GIF content every day.
In July 2017, they announced that it had 200 million daily active users between both the API and website, with around 250 million monthly active users on the website.
Chung announced in a February 2019 New York event that Giphy was exploring an advertising scheme that is distinguished from the Google model, which shows ads according to users' search histories. The idea is to embed advertising in private messages. Giphy is seeking to take advantage of this landscape since the GIG database has been integrated into most messaging services.
And recently it has been announced that Facebook has acquired the shorty video platform.
Of course, the big news surrounding Giphy of late is its acquisition by Facebook, which is integrating the company into its Instagram division. Giphy has long been integrated via an API with Facebook’s services including Messenger, Whatsapp and Instagram.
In a blog post, Vishal Shah, VP of Product, said: “A lot of people in our community already know and love GIPHY. In fact, 50% of GIPHY’s traffic comes from the Facebook family of apps, half of that from Instagram alone. By bringing Instagram and GIPHY together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect GIFs and stickers in Stories and Direct. Both our services are big supporters of the creator and artist community, and that will continue. Together, we can make it easier for anyone to create and share their work with the world.
According to Facebook, 50% of Giphy’s traffic comes from Facebook’s platforms, with half of that from Instagram alone. “By bringing Instagram and Giphy together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect Gifs and stickers in Stories and Direct,” said Vishal Shah, Facebook’s vice president of product. “Both our services are big supporters of the creator and artist community, and that will continue. “Together, we can make it easier for anyone to create and share their work with the world. ”People can currently share Gifs from Giphy on Facebook rivals such as Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.
“GIPHY will continue to operate its library (including its global content collection), and we’re looking forward to investing further in its technology and relationships with content and API partners. 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.”
Find out more about the company, here.
Amazon test new technology to improve employee safety
At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.
Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.
A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.
One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.
The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.
“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”
Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety
In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.
“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”
“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility.
‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities.
In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’
Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots.
“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”