Shutterstock is buying Giphy for $53 million after Meta’s acquisition of the popular GIF platform was blocked by the UK’s competition regulator, the stock image giant has announced.
That price represents a steep discount compared to what Meta (then Facebook) reportedly agreed to pay for Giphy in 2020. At the time, Axios reported the deal was worth around $400 million, while The Guardian suggests closer to $315 million. Either way, a $53 million price tag is a bargain versus Giphy’s peak valuation of around $600 million in 2016. As part of the deal, Meta will retain access to Giphy’s library across its products.
Meta’s acquisition of Giphy ran into trouble when the UK’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), ordered Facebook’s parent company to unwind the deal in 2021. The CMA argued that the deal could harm competition by increasing Meta’s market power, potentially allowing it to block its rival’s access to GIFs or force them to hand over valuable user data in exchange for them. Although it appealed the ruling, Meta eventually agreed to sell Giphy last year.
For Shutterstock, the deal will augment its content library, expanding it to include GIFs and Stickers. The company also said it would help its “generative AI and metadata strategy.” That’s a bit more vague, but Shutterstock is currently using generative AI to provide imagery to its customers. Acquiring Giphy’s substantial library could theoretically give Shutterstock reams of training data for future AI-based products.
“Through the Giphy acquisition, we are extending our audience touch points beyond primarily professional marketing and advertising use cases and expanding into casual conversations,” Shutterstock CEO Paul Hennessy said in a statement. “We plan to leverage Shutterstock’s unique capabilities in content and metadata monetization, generative AI, studio production and creative automation to enable the commercialization of our GIF library as we roll this offering out to customers.”
Meta’s purchase of Giphy is one of two high-profile acquisitions the CMA has recently opposed. Earlier this year, it decided against allowing Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard on the grounds that it could harm competition in the nascent cloud gaming market. Microsoft said it will appeal the decision.
In its press release, Shutterstock says that Giphy’s platform currently boasts 1.7 billion daily users, 15 billion daily media impressions, and 1.3 billion daily search queries. As well as viewing GIFs directly via its site and apps, Giphy’s library also integrates into a host of other services, including Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, Twitter, Slack, and Discord via over 14,000 API / SDK integrations.