11:05 | 08.10.19 | Interviews | exclusive 149510

GIPHY founder: Upload as many Armenian gifs as possible

GIPHY founder and CEO Alex Chung, who is visiting Armenia to attend WCIT 2019, spoke at Deworkacy’s Yerevan office, Startup Grind Yerevan on October 7.

Over 300 million people send 7 billion gifs on GIPHY daily. The users can not only search for gifs and stickers, but also publish their own, integrate various materials, share gifs, etc. Before founding the platform, Chung worked at Intel and MTV, and dozens of startups in total over 20 years.

Itel.am presents the exclusive interview with Alex Chung.

Alex, let’s start with your favorite gifs.

That is tough. Every day it changes, so it’s like of asking about my favorite food. If I ever get sad I love cat gifs. Cats are universal fun forever (laughs – Itel.am). And also babies, which are falling down, are a total fun.

We heard you had more than 12 startups before GIPHY. Why weren’t they as successful?

I had a multiple of music startups as I always thought we can reinvent music. But it never worked: it’s just too hard to get into music.

Next, I tried social networks. I had a few of those, but social networks are too hard to compete with Facebook and the other giants.

I had a few art startups, but art market is really small and people need to see the work when they pay a lot for it.


I had a few startups technology startups. The story is that there are a few startups that you try and then they totally fail.

Most of them will be ok but not enough to grow.

What impact do gifs have on people in real life? Do you know any stories where gifs helped people?

One time a mother with her son was waiting to see me in line, and she said: “I use GIPHY every day! My son is autistic and GIPHY is the one catalogue that I can show him what a happy person looks like in a thousand of different ways.” They used GIPHY as a way to train him to recognize human emotions. She said there was no other place on the internet where you can find a catalogue of human emotions.

My mom doesn’t speak English, so when she feels angry she tries to find exact gif and send it.

We are just a few years old and this will eventually be much more useful to everyone.

Are gifs going to exist forever? What is their future?

It’s not about gifs anymore. Now most of the gifs are actually videos, so it is about being able to send a short video to explain yourself. The platform is 7 years old and gifs have been there for 30 years, as long as the internet exists. They should be forever, if not in the form of gifs than something else. I would be upset if I had no way to express myself except for with my words.

What would be your message to GIPHY community in Armenia, which is really huge?

Upload Armenian gifs, as much Armenian pop culture as possible.

Upload it, share it and have fun.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Alex Chung