Shutterstock Snags Giphy for a Song, Post Meta’s Regulatory Stumble

Shutterstock Snags Giphy for a Song, Post Meta’s Regulatory Stumble

Table of Content

In this article, we will dive into the unexpected acquisition of Giphy by Shutterstock for $53 million. 

The deal comes as a surprising consequence of UK regulatory action that blocked Meta’s previous attempt to acquire the popular GIF platform. 

We’ll also examine what this shift means for all involved companies and explore the broader implications for the tech industry.

Key Takeaways

  • After a UK regulatory block, Shutterstock has successfully acquired Giphy from Meta for just $53 million. This amount contrasts with the nearly $400 million Meta originally paid.
  • Meta will continue to have access to Giphy’s vast library across its products.
  • The deal could provide Shutterstock with a wealth of training data for future AI-based products.
  • Shutterstock plans to utilize Giphy to broaden its reach from professional marketing and advertising use cases to casual conversations.
  • Meta’s failed acquisition of Giphy is the second high-profile deal recently blocked by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
  • Giphy’s platform boasts impressive daily user statistics, offering Shutterstock potential access to an expansive audience.

The Failed Meta-Giphy Merger

The internet was rife with speculation when Meta, formerly Facebook, first made moves to acquire the popular GIF platform Giphy.

It seemed like a match made in heaven, bringing together Meta’s social media prowess with Giphy’s vast and beloved library of GIFs.

What started as a business venture worth around $400 million, according to Axios, swiftly spiraled into a regulatory fiasco.

This fiasco saw Meta’s acquisition dreams fall flat due to intervention from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA was unyielding in its assertion that Meta’s Giphy purchase would unfairly bolster Meta’s market power.

They voiced concerns about Meta potentially limiting rivals’ access to GIFs, or even coercing them to hand over sensitive user data.

Despite Meta’s attempts to appeal, the CMA remained firm.

Meta ultimately agreed to sell Giphy in the face of the staunch regulatory stance.

Shutterstock’s Leap into GIFs

In a surprising turn of events, stock image giant Shutterstock stepped into the fray, picking up Giphy for a mere $53 million.

This bargain acquisition gives Shutterstock access to an ocean of GIFs, stickers, and related digital content.

The acquisition aligns perfectly with Shutterstock’s ongoing push towards leveraging generative AI to enhance its customer experience.

Giphy’s extensive library could act as a treasure trove of training data for Shutterstock’s future AI-driven offerings.

In a statement, Shutterstock CEO Paul Hennessy highlighted the significance of this purchase.

He said it will enable Shutterstock to expand beyond its traditional professional marketing and advertising uses and venture into casual digital conversations.

UK Regulatory Stance on Tech Giants

The role of the UK’s CMA in this story can’t be overstated.

It has emerged as a formidable force, taking a hardline stance on acquisitions by tech giants that it perceives as anti-competitive.

Meta’s failed attempt to acquire Giphy is the second high-profile acquisition the CMA has recently thwarted.

Earlier this year, they blocked Microsoft’s attempt to acquire Activision Blizzard, citing potential harm to competition in the budding cloud gaming market.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the CMA is not afraid to throw a spanner in the works of even the most significant tech deals.

It is holding its ground in its mission to maintain a competitive playing field.

Implications for Future Mergers and Acquisitions

The tale of Giphy’s sale to Shutterstock offers an instructive glimpse into the possible future of tech industry mergers and acquisitions.

The UK regulatory authority’s increasingly tough stance might lead tech giants to think twice before going forward with large-scale acquisitions.

Prospective sellers too could become wary, knowing a lucrative deal could be derailed by regulatory authorities, even after closure.

It’s worth noting that in the UK, companies can close mergers without regulatory clearance.

However, if regulatory bodies decide to scrutinize the deal post-merger, they could face substantial complications, as seen in the Meta-Giphy saga.

Looking Forward: The Value of Giphy for Shutterstock

Shutterstock’s acquisition of Giphy promises a bold new future for the stock image giant.

The inclusion of GIFs and stickers in its content library opens up fresh possibilities for both advertisers and everyday users.

Shutterstock also plans to utilize its capabilities in content monetization, generative AI, and studio production to commercialize Giphy’s GIF library.

With over 1.7 billion daily users and 1.3 billion daily search queries, Giphy offers Shutterstock a potential avenue to reach a vast audience.

CEO Paul Hennessy underscored the broader vision for Shutterstock, saying, “Giphy enables everyday users to express themselves in memorable ways with GIF and sticker content while also enabling brands to be part of these casual conversations.”


The unexpected twists in the journey of Giphy from Meta to Shutterstock underline the complexities of contemporary tech industry acquisitions. 

Notably, the strict regulatory stance of UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has demonstrated its ability to reshape industry landscapes. 

Shutterstock’s recent acquisition positions the company to augment its content library with a vast array of GIFs, potentially extending its reach far beyond its current audience. 

The true value and impact of this acquisition, however, will only become evident in the days to come. 

As with all things in the tech world, change is constant and frequently rapid, making for an exciting and unpredictable future.


Written by

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling is a renowned financial writer with over 10 years in the finance sector. With a strong economics background, he simplifies complex financial topics for a wide audience. Alexander contributes to top financial platforms and is working on his first book to promote financial independence.

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Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.