Giphy Raises Additional US$72 Million In Funding, Now Values At US$600 Million

Giphy secures US$72 million fund and now values at US$600 million

Looking at Mario, it is perculiar how such a simple looping animated image featuring viral moments or pop cultural references manages to be so eye-catching.

Known as a GIF, which is short for Graphics Interchange Format, the animated image has exploded in popularity and successfully drawn in big interest from users and investors. As Giphy, the platform for all things GIF has announced today that it has raised US$72 million in its round of equity funding. The funding was led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Institutional Venture Partners, and China Media Capital as well as existing backers Betaworks, RRE Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Alphabet Inc’s GV.

Following this, the startup based in New York has now doubled to a total funding of US$150 million as well as a valuation reported at US$600 million. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, this growth in funding and valuation came after the startup made an announcement last week that its GIFs has a daily viewership of 100 million people and that it serves one billion GIFs per day through its search engine, apps, and partnership deals which includes Viacom, Disney, and Major League Baseball. In totality, this culminates to about 2 million hours of GIFs viewed each day.

Understanding the never-ending thirst for silent, short videos ranging from silly to serious matters, the company was founded in February 2013 by Alex Chung and Jace Cooke. Although the company started out as part of a Hacker-in-Residence program at betaworks, it has always held the mission to make GIFs more searchable and shareable. The platform has since then been GIF-orientated, providing GIF-based products, including the ability to turn video into a GIF, Giphy Keys – a GIFkeyboard, and Giphy Cam available App Store, which is a portfolio of tools to help media companies publish GIF contents.

Additionally, the company also has a team in Giphy Studios that helps broadcast GIFs primarily turning media events like the Oscars or the Emmys into a library of GIFs, which is done in real-time. Furthermore, Giphy offers all these tools and resources to individual publishers and media companies for free, without any copyright restraints. In other words, to date, Giphy has not activated any form of monetization and is operating on a zero revenue basis.

Though it may seem like that this lack of exchange does not fare well for Giphy’s future revenue streams, but Giphy founder and CEO, Alex Chung sees a huge opportunity in advertising, saying at the TC Disrupt SF in September that “In a world where mobile messaging needs a native ad format, GIF is the perfect format for that.” He further elaborated that the mobile platform has yet to land on a native advertising format and his ambitions for GIFs to fill that role. It would be done in a way where brands could insert their products into intimate conversations, done so in a format that would feel natural and relevant.

But for now, Giphy says that it is not going to flip the monetization switch as long as the service continues to grow and investments flows in. For this round of funding, Giphy intends to use the funds to hire more editorial staff as well as in projects for the improvement of its technical capabilities.

On the same not, Giphy has also seized on the popularity of Vine, the six-second video service that began shutting down last week, offering users the option to convert Vine videos into GIFs, with the provided option to download the original file, audio and all from Giphy at any time.

For more information, please visit http://giphy.com/

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Starbreeze Acquires Nozon, A Belgian Visual Effects Studio And PresenZ Technology Creator To Improve VR Cinematic Experience

starbreeze-nozon-acquisition

With the future of VR unfolding at the moment, many have clearly seen the use of the technology playing out on gaming computers and home consoles. Starbreeze, a company based in Stockholm, Sweden similarly sees the potential of VR. But instead of going for 3D game engines like most companies, the startup has, on the other hand, decided to pursue what fits into their mode of production – that is taking VR on a high-end headset, designed for amusement parks and IMAX theaters, in what known today as the StarVR headset.

Consolidating the company’s status in the VR scene, this week the company has made some major new acquisition – announcing last Tuesday that it has purchased Nozon, a Belgium-based visual effects studio for 7.1 MEUR, which roughly translates to about US$7.78 million. The deal was closed with 4.6 MEUR (approximately US$5.05 million) in cash with the remaining 2.5 MEUR as newly issued Starbreeze B-shares, worth about US$ 2.74 million. Additionally, both parties have also agreed on a capped ten-year earn out for Nozon founders based on PresenZ future financial performance.

Looking at Nozon, it is a VFX and 3D animation company that produces feature films, where among some of the company’s portfolios include animated feature films such as Asterix, the Mansion of Gods, and Minuscule which has won the César for Best Animated Movie in 2015. Yet essentially, the company’s emphasis is on developing VR cinematic using an in-house tool, PresenZ which was the tool that ultimately led to this partnership between Starbreeze and Nozon.

Introduced in 2015, PresenZ is a revolutionary technology, known for its function to be able to deliver high-quality blockbuster computer graphics (CG). Its main feature, however, lies in its ability to create an interactive parallax in virtual reality which allows viewers to move their heads with a six degrees of freedom in a pre-rendered animated video. Essentially, it enables a degree of positional tracking and when being in a movie scene. In other words, the tool facilitates a better immersion experience. Just imagine looking down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland.

“PresenZ technology for multiple virtual reality applications will allow for room scale scanning and virtualization, and high-quality computer graphics rendering at an almost movie-level polygon count. The technology’s parallax capabilities will greatly complement the high fidelity of the StarVR HMD with its 210-degree field of view,” said Bo Andersson Klint, the CEO of Starbreeze.

Besides that, Starbreeze‘s immersive virtual reality cinematic experiences are scheduled to be out later in the year. As the company has already partnered with IMAX to deliver new cinematic video content to location-based pods in movie theaters and shopping malls. On the same vein, with Facebook announcing its VR social networking experience last month and EXA Global, the first VR theme park in Southeast Asia slated to launch early next year, the world is becoming lively with virtual reality and its endless possibilities.

“The future of VR is undefined but it is easy to imagine with this technology, where a space can be scanned and rendered in high-quality CGI. And with Nozon joining Starbreeze family, it is possible to imagine with the applications it houses that you could render a space like the Louvre in Paris or Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and provide interactive guided tours.” the CEO of Starbreeze further adds.

For more information, please visit http://www.starbreeze.com/

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media