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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook has agreed to buy Giphy, the popular platform of sharable animated images, Axios has learned from multiple sources. The total deal value is around $400 million.

Background: A source close to the situation says that the two companies first began talking prior to the pandemic, although that was more about a partnership than an acquisition.

  • Giphy is expected to retain its own branding, with its primary integration to come via Facebook's Instagram platform.
  • New York-based Giphy had raised around $150 million in VC funding since its 2013 inception, from firms like Betaworks (which incubated the company), Lerer Hippeau, IVP, DFJ Growth, GGV Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Its most recent private valuation was around $600 million.
  • Yes, but: Facebook is facing enormous blowback over its previous acquisitions, which means that this deal, however small by comparison, is likely to face a lot of antitrust scrutiny by regulators. The tech giant is currently under investigation by federal and state lawmakers for antitrust.

The bottom line: Giphy is a massive video library, with hundreds of millions of daily users that share billions of GIFs, that generates revenue via branded content. Adding Facebook's ad sales and marketing firepower could be what transforms it from a popular service into a highly profitable one.

Update: Facebook just made it official on its company blog.

Source: Giphy

Go deeper

Zuckerberg testified before FTC during antitrust probe into Facebook

Photo: Tobias Hase/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified during a Federal Trade Commission hearing this week as part of the agency's antitrust investigation into the social media company, Politico reports.

Why it matters via Axios' Ashley Gold: The FTC deposing Zuckerberg is not a surprising move in an antitrust case that may result in a lawsuit. It also gives the agency some cover after being criticized for not having Zuckerberg testify in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal case.

Sidewalk robots get legal rights as "pedestrians"

"We’ve got about 1,000 of them running around out there," Ryan Tuohy of Starship tells Axios. Photo courtesy of Starship Technologies.

As small robots proliferate on sidewalks and city streets, so does legislation that grants them generous access rights and even classifies them, in the case of Pennsylvania, as "pedestrians."

Why it matters: Fears of a dystopian urban world where people dodge heavy, fast-moving droids are colliding with the aims of robot developers large and small — including Amazon and FedEx — to deploy delivery fleets.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
31 mins ago - Economy & Business

The biggest obstacle to a wealth tax

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Taxing the rich is an idea that's back. An "ultra-millionaire tax" introduced by Elizabeth Warren and other left-wing Democrats this week would raise more than $3 trillion over 10 years, they say, while making the tax system as a whole more fair.

Why it matters: New taxes would be a necessary part of any Democratic plan to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality. But President Biden has more urgent priorities — and Warren's wealth tax in particular faces constitutional obstacles that make it a hard sell.