Tech | September 16, 2022 11:51 am

GIFs Are Admittedly “for Boomers,” Says Giphy

The GIF search engine Giphy is adopting an unusual strategy to complete a sale to Meta, but its self-assessment contains a lot of generational truth

Giphy logo displayed on a phone screen and Giphy website displayed on a laptop screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on November 29, 2021. The gif search engine is using a less than flattering self assessment to prevent a sale from being blocked to Meta.
To complete a sale to Meta, Giphy is essentially admitting the GIF is past its prime
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The GIF search engine Giphy is offering up a surprisingly negative self-assessment in a way to complete a sale to Meta — and one that offers up a lot of honesty about which generations are using GIFs and which are rejecting them. Essentially: GIFs are for boomers.

“Marketplace commentary and user sentiment towards GIFs on social media shows that they have fallen out of fashion as a content form, with younger users in particular describing GIFs as ‘for boomers’ and ‘cringe,’” as Giphy noted in a recent filing, which was prompted by UK regulators attempting to block a $400 million takeover by Facebook’s parent company Meta, per The Guardian.

It’s an interesting attempt to keep the sale going through by basically admitting that the GIF — which turned 35 this year — may have run its course. Giphy’s valuation is already down by $200 million from its peak six years ago, and many experts (and younger social media users) are pointing out that these short little animations aren’t cool anymore. For example, here is one cited tweet from Giphy’s filing:

And there’s a reason for that: They were co-opted. “It’s actually kind of sad how choked out the gif was by large corporations, copyright laws, and mobile browsers,” internet culture writer Ryan Broderick told The Guardian. Basically, a combination of copyright issues, Giphy’s own monopoly on gif searches and technical issues, along with larger companies like Twitter and Facebook making them easier to post (mainly as reaction GIFs).

Worst of all, big companies got involved. Nine of the top 10 GIFs on Giphy in 2021 were posted there by the company that made them, not by everyday users. So that’s probably why you’re all of a sudden seeing middle-aged social media users all posting the same 15-year-old clip of Stanley from The Office.