Meta sells GIPHY to Shutterstock for a big loss after regulators force a sale

Acquired for $400 million. Sold for just over $50 million 3 years later.
By Matt Binder  on 
GIPHY acquired
UK's antitrust authority has officially forced Meta to sell the GIF search engine GIPHY. Shutterstock is the buyer. Credit: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

How does one turn $400 million into a cool $50 million in just 3 short years? By acquiring GIPHY, the GIF search engine! Because that's exactly what happened to Facebook and Instagram's parent company, Meta.

On Tuesday, the stock photo company Shutterstock announced(opens in a new tab) that it was buying GIPHY from Meta for $53 million in cash. 

GIPHY has sort of quietly ingrained itself into numerous platforms over the years, powering many social networks' GIF search engine features. According to Shutterstock, GIPHY sees around 1.3 billion search queries every day and "powers more than 15 billion daily media impressions."

So, why did Meta sell GIPHY and take a hit of hundreds of millions dollars? Well, to be fair to Meta, it wasn't exactly the company's choice. Meta was forced to sell off the GIF search engine due to antitrust laws in the UK.

Back in 2021, UK's antitrust regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) told(opens in a new tab) Meta it must relinquish GIPHY after it ruled that Meta's acquisition reduced competition in the market. Meta finally exhausted all of its appeals and the CMA affirmed(opens in a new tab) its ruling this past October: Meta must sell GIPHY. 

But, Meta isn't completely cutting its ties with GIPHY. According to Shutterstock, as part of the acquisition deal, Meta has entered into an "API agreement" with the stock photo company in order to keep using GIPHY to power its platforms' GIF searches.

So, don't fret Facebook users who love dropping GIFs. Nothing changes for you. At least, for now.

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