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How Giphy Became the Internet's Go-To Gif Brand

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This story appears in the April 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Tyler Menzel watches television or movies or cable news, and he no longer sees what regular people see. He filters for the magical few seconds -- a woman’s uncontrolled smirk, a man’s harrumph, a candidate’s shrug, the briefest of experiences that are, all at once, visually comical and expressive and entirely relatable. He’s trained himself to do this by being editorial director at Giphy, the fifth employee the company hired three years ago. His team used to be one person: him. Now it’s six people. By the end of this year, it’ll be 16. And like him, they will all have an eye for the overlooked. An eye for the moment. And they will transform that moment into a gif.

Photographs By Eric Ray Davidson | Illustrations by Giphy
Adam Leibsohn COO (left) and Alex Chung CEO (right)

For the uninitiated: You’ve seen a gif before. It’s a looping image used across the internet -- the thing that isn’t quite a video, that has no play button and no sound, that repeats until you look away. It’s lingua franca on social media. It’s on the New York Times homepage. It is silly and rudimentary and yet widely beloved, emailed and texted alongside emojis and emoticons. The gif’s inventor, Steve Wilhite, insists it is pronounced “jif,” like the peanut butter, but don’t you dare say it that way. The internet at large uses a hard g, like “gift.” Case closed.

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