GIF empire takes over Silicon Valley

Global Business

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – and it seems that one company is really capitalizing on that.

The GIF has been around since the early days of the internet. But it’s really taking off now. CGTN’s Phil Lavelle reports.

The six second, low-quality clips that were invented in the early days of the world wide web as a way of sharing moving images over slow connections (video was too big) should surely be long dead by now. And yet, they’re being used more and more as a tool of personal expression.

GIPHY is one of the companies responsible. It’s an LA-based startup that has managed to get itself baked into social media networks, and is now becoming the default method of choice for many people who want to say something, but don’t want to use words.

Just four years old, it’s now in front of around 300 million eyeballs a day and is reportedly moving into advertising after a successful trial when it live streamed this year’s American Emmy Awards show.

But how does a company like this stay relevant? The internet is full of ideas that took the world by storm, yet disappeared quickly enough when users lost interest. For every Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, there’s a Myspace, Napster and MSN Messenger.

“You have to stick to your mission. You have to grow and see how the market is changing. And see how you can apply directly to what’s happening in the market,” tech author Marsha Collier said.

Many may wonder why you would send a picture, when the words would do just as well. Rebekah Radice has the answer. She’s a social media expert and explains the attraction “GIFs just naturally connect in a way that we really can’t communicate with text. Our brains actually process video 60,000 times faster than text,” she said.

And even though the GIF is on the rise, she insists there is still room for another visual form of expression: “The emoji’s not going anywhere.”