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Giphy quietly acquired imoji to build out its emoji and sticker business

Giphy quietly acquired imoji to build out its emoji and sticker business
From TechCrunch - March 7, 2017

Last week, GIF-finding platform Giphyrevealed a new line of business offering artist-created stickers in Apples iMessage app. But what it didnt announce was thatit also made an acquisition to bolster thisnew sticker strategy. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Giphy quietly acquired imoji, a startup that had developeda popular platform for creatorsto build and distribute custom-made stickers and emoji to the messaging masses.

Terms of the deal, which completedat the end of last year, were not disclosed. The acquisition includes all of imojis technology, including its platform for creators, as well as the whole team, which appears to includeeight people, although some of them may not be full time. The founders of San Francisco-based imoji Jason Stein, Daniel Brusilovsky, Nima Khoshini, Kirk Lacob, Thomas Smith, Ben Draa include several ex-Apple engineers, as well asthree people who also hold positions at the Golden State Warriors, the local pro basketball team.

We were originally tipped off to a possibleacquisitionby a reader who noticed that imojis apps (one for iMessage stickers, and one for stickers for other text messages) suddenly started to note thatGiphy Inc was the owner of the app. Then, after we reached out to both companies to ask about them, the apps suddenly disappeared. You can see the cached versions of them here and here.

Now we understand that both apps will be making their way back to the App Store soon, along with the rest of the imogi business. Giphy plans to keep imojis standalone services all services for artists, API partners, and generaluserscontinuing as normalwhile also integrating some of the techinto itsbigger platform for new services and to fill out their collective vision of the world.

GIPHY and imoji, GIFs and stickers, its all working towards the same goal; making our conversations more rich, more expressive, through easy to use and incredibly fun animation, said Stein, COO, in an email sent to us confirming some of the details of the deal.

Building imoji has been an amazing journey; were proud to have developed a product that was used by so many people every day, addedKhoshini, imojis CTO. By partnering with GIPHY, were able to continue this journey and bring joy to more people across the world.

Giphy, originally incubated at Betaworks, has been a breakout hit in the consumer startup world, tapping into the craze for GIFs in social media, where they are used with reckless abandon by many a Slacker, Tweeter, Redditor and others who love to insert short moving pictures instead of words to presenttheir two cents to the world.

To date, Giphy has raised $151 million and is now valued at $600 milliona valuation that it perhaps now needs to fill out with more business growth, hence the sticker launch and the acquisition of Imoji to expand that platform.

By comparison, imoji is small but mighty. The companyborne out of the trend of messaging apps opening up themselves as platforms to third party contenthad raised only around $2 million, according to CrunchBase. But the money came from a pretty interesting group of investors. They included Joe Lacob, father of co-founder Kirk, partner at Kleiner Perkins, and majority owner of the Warriors; and Chi-Hua Chien and Erik J. Kim of Goodwater Capital. Chien previously was also at KPCB, and Kim was at Maverick Capital.

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