Google has announced that it will acquire gif-sharing startup Tenor in a bid to increase its hold on search.

Tenor provides a large, searchable database of gif images. The company claims to attracts approximately 300 million users and 12 billion searches per month via Android, iOS and desktop.

The startup will continue to operate as a separate brand, but Tenor gifs will be searchable within Google Image search.

Both companies have released a statement confirming the acquisition. However, they did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Tenor currently provides users of Google rivals access to gif images through services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and Twitter. It is unclear whether Google will choose to remove Tenor from rival services.

What was said:

Announcing the deal, Google’s director of engineering Cathy Edwards said:

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“Most people now use Google Images to find more information about a topic, and to help them communicate and express themselves – case in point, we see millions of searches for gifs every day.”

“We’ve continued to evolve Google Images to meet both of these needs, and today we’re bringing gifs more closely into the fold by acquiring Tenor, a gif platform for Android, iOS and desktop.”

Announcing the deal via its own blog, Tenor CEO David McIntosh said:

“We look forward to the next leg of our journey with Google as we grow Tenor to help anyone with a mobile device visually express the full range of human emotion.”

Why it matters:

Google dominates internet search, holding a market share of more than 87%. Its rivals, Bing, Yahoo! and Baidu, hold 5.8%, 3% and 0.9% respectively.

Adding a gif search service its arsenal will also help to increase this hold, while providing yet more valuable data on how people search.

The two trillion searches performed via Google each year are the backbone of the $700 billion company. This data is used by brands to target potential customers based on what they search for via Google AdWords.

Google acquires Tenor gif - Verdict

Google recorded revenues of $110.8 billion in 2017. Advertising displayed on Google sites through AdWords accounted for 70.9% of that.

Tenor has worked with major brands such as Dunkin Donuts’ to release “sponsored gifs”. This could be an area of interest for Google.


Created in 1987, the use of gifs has exploded in popularity in recent years.

Giphy, the biggest gif-sharing platform, reportedly recorded 100 million daily active users in 2017. Users of the service perform more than one billion searches for gif images each year.