The animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a now-familiar sight on popular websites from Tumblr to Buzzfeed, used to illustrate news events, funny moments, emotional responses, pornography and everything in between.
But on Friday, a new search engine dedicated solely to the animated GIF launched. “Giphy” drew 30,000 visitors over the course of the weekend, according to its creators.
“We released it around 4:00pm Friday and planned to spend the weekend gathering feedback from friends. Then 30k people showed up,” wrote Jace Cooke, a Yulan, New York-based designer and one of the duo behind the site, in en email to TPM.
Cooke said he and his co-creator Alex Chung developed Giphy as a “side project,” over several “late nights and weekends” beginning in mid-December.
Here’s an example of a kind of GIFs that Giphy directs users to:
Chung previously co-founded a social planning startup called Fridge that was acquired by Google in July 2011 and integrated into Google Plus. Cooke previously worked on a Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based social activity startup called Hot Potato, which was acquired by Facebook in 2010.
Giphy has attracted the attention of a number of prominent journalists and tech blogs, but not all favorable: Gizmodo called it “hilariously bad,” after conducting several searches on it and finding inconsistent results.
But Cooke said he and Chung are working to improve the site. On Twitter, Cooke noted that the initial release wasn’t meant to be public quite yet, but that the website was soliciting feedback from early users.
“As you can imagine, we have our hands pretty full,” Cooke told TPM.
The GIF was first developed by a CompuServe engineer in 1987, and though Tumblr users have clearly taken to the animated version of format, statistics by third party tracking firms indicate that other image formats are actually more popular on the Web now.