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Launch HN: Guggy (YC S17) – Make your friends laugh with personalized GIFs
53 points by rotemy on Aug 1, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments
Hi everyone, I'm Rotem from Guggy (https://guggy.com). We help you make your friends laugh by turning your text messages into personalized, funny GIFs. We're currently serving 4M GIFs daily.

It works like this: Whenever you want to spice up your conversation, you click on the Guggy button and get a selection of GIFs with your text in them. If you find one that you like and that you think is funny, you click it and a link gets copied to your clipboard.

When we started Guggy, we were trying to provide non-technical users with an easy way of creating funny GIFs, and for that we built a GIF editor, only to discover that the real problem was that people had a hard time combining the right text with the right GIF. That got us thinking that we should try to automatically create the text/image pairing, relieving users from the need to search and match. To do that, we've built an NLP engine that understands 'messaging language', that is, slang, excited writing (e.g. “soo amazinggg!”) and leetspeak, to name a few.

We’ve also built a fast image rendering engine that generates the final media for the user in real time. This stands out from existing solutions, which rely on existing media files (served via CDNs). We don’t store the files at all, we generate them on the fly at each request. That gives us flexibility in personalizing the content to the user.

We’re two co-founders who are also cousins. We have been working together on numerous projects for several years, and always wanted to build something related to humor. Of all the projects we've tried, this is the one that just sort of took off, and we've been following where the users want to take us. It's kind of a dream project because the technical challenges are interesting and we get to work in a space that amuses us.

Here is a real example from our users of how a regular message can become expressive and engaging using Guggy - https://img.guggy.com/media/iL1rqhoZE7/animated/2/h/guggy.gi...

We offer our own Android/iOS GIF keyboards for natural experience, or you can just use our standalone apps. We also have bots and an API so you can use Guggy via messengers such as Facebook and Slack.

I've heard that this place can be a bit serious! but if you don't find it annoying, we may reply to bits of your text in the comments with Guggy URLs, just for fun and to show what the system can do.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our product, and feel free to head to guggy.com and reply with Guggy GIFs :)

Wow, this is awesome. I've been toying with the idea of creating a GIF search engine (I find Giphy's search results rather weak). I'm impressed with Guggy's search results.

Any chance you guys could talk more about how this is implemented? (I'd be interested in the tech stack as well)

Edit: Your about page is 404'ing http://guggy.com/about

Thanks! What we can share is that we have essentially three main parts - a custom NLP engine that is built specifically for texting (consists of numerous phases of filtering and normalizing), this is the core of Guggy and will be also used in the future for more entertaining applications.

The second part is the creatively tagged image repository. Even though tech enables now to tag objects in images, it still can't do it in a creative and funny way, so for the moment we were aiming for quality rather than quantity (I do agree that massive existing GIF repositories do not yield desired results), whereas we have plans for extending our repository significantly in the future.

The third part is also what we consider a big advantage of Guggy, and that's the image rendering engine. That allows us to personalized each request, such that different users could potentially see different results for the same texts (imagine seeing them in a font that you like, and your friend sees them in a different font, but there are also other applications for this). The images are therefore rendered on the fly per each request and are never stored.

Hope that clears up the questions you had in mind.

Thank you for the reply! It certainly does.

Something that you guys might find interesting. Even after a day I already forgot exactly the name of Guggy, instead attempting to navigate to http://guppy.com and http://gubby.com. Probably just my bad memory, but might help you guys out if you see bad retention.

That's interesting.

We will think how to make our brand more memorable, thanks.

> Your about page is 404'ing http://guggy.com/about Thanks - aware and fixing at the moment.

@dom96 about page is fixed now, thanks

Where are you guys serving 4m gifs? the API? Doesn't seem like the apps are that popular. Also the name might need work because it doesn't sound very appealing

Yes, most of our traffic comes from places like Viber and FB messenger extension, we only started to really focus on our apps recently. Guggy sounds to us like a funny and casual word. It's actually very similar to the word funny.

It sounds to me like the noise a baby makes when giggling with food in it's mouth; dribbling everywhere!

Looks like a really cool project. Congratulations on the momentum!

I have some feedback to share:

- A thing that bothers me a bit is the extremely long URL that Guggy generates. It's probably not a priority, but those would look and play nicer as shortened links.

- As always there's a slight "uncanny valley" problem when computers match up images with natural language. I sent this to a co-worker as a test, and she complained about the insincere looks on the Seinfeld cast faces: http://bit.ly/2viBamB. It achieved the opposite of what I intended :I

- Let people re-caption existing Guggies


> A thing that bothers me a bit is the extremely long URL...

Most platforms on which Guggys get shared either do not show the URL or shorten it. Could you say where did it bother you?

> As always there's a slight "uncanny valley" problem...

Interesting point. The thing is that if we have only the scope of the short message, such as "it's great", it's hard to predict whether you're being slightly cynical or sincere, so we try to provide with a few options to choose from.

> Let people re-caption existing Guggies

I see. It's more relevant to the website but I can think of a few ways we can do it on our apps too. We'll give it a thought.


Here are some comments:

- When I search for "the universe itself is a giant ocean of distraction.", I see few options and a lot of empty colored boxes which I assumed was empty - but they were loading. So maybe it's better to put a spinner?

- It can be very good if embedded inside FB or Reddit. So a focus there would be better. FB embed (edit- FB shows it on the timeline without a need to click away) worked for me.

- Slight customization of font color, stroke and size could be good - maybe as an advanced setting. But simplicity and defaults are good.

- May I upload my own photo and make my own gug (or whatever).?

- The colored boxes should be replaced very quickly to the gif. We find a spinner to be too much of a distraction. We may change the colored boxes to a thumbnail of the gif.

- You can post the gif to FB and reddit using the share buttons. What do you mean by embed?

- Advanced customizations and photo upload are on our roadmap, we can't tell yet when we will do it

> The colored boxes should be replaced very quickly to the gif.

In several attempts, 4-5 of them were GIFS and the rest waited colored- it was enough for me to assume they were meant to be empty. I have a fast LTE connection. Spinners are a distraction but the slightest, faintest spinner concept can do- and they don't need to spin just maybe just wave or show something is coming.

or maybe don't show the colored boxes at all ..

@diminish Thank you for the suggestion. We will probably use the thumbnail to make the experience better.

Maybe it's better to put it at the very top of your post )

Nice idea but please spend a couple of days browsing 9gag for inspiration on your frontpage. The examples are (imo) note even remotly funny. Would they be funny they would surely inspire usage of your website.

Edit: The tech behind that seems to be interesting, tho. Good job.

Thanks for the feedback.

As you mentioned, front page results are meant to demonstrate our tech. We are constantly trying to balance the humor side and that, however, making sure every result is funny is not very scalable.

Yeah I see. Maybe a few funny examples would suffice.

Thanks, we will try change some of the results to funnier ones

In addition to 9gags, imgur and reddit top subreddits (top) lists are interesting places to get inspired.

That's true, however, it important to mention that Guggy is mostly meant for messaging.

Nifty product! I think I'd purchase an app if I could get gifs without the watermark. It's a bit annoying to me. Nothing against your product, just giving feedback from this users perspective :)

That's completely understandable. To tell you the truth, we would also want to provide the GIFs without a watermark. However, we need to create brand awareness. Let's hope we will get to the point when we can remove it very soon :)

Can you talk about how your realtime gif infrastructure works?

Have you considered some sort of lightweight machine vision for pinning text to the scene, similar to many of the gifs in Reddit's /r/highqualitygifs / Instagram's stories?

> Can you talk about how your realtime gif infrastructure works?

We generally store necessary data for generating the GIFs within the URLs themselves. Then we use stateless servers to generate the files. These read the data and overlay the text on top of the GIF.

> Have you considered some sort of lightweight machine vision for pinning text to the scene, similar to many of the gifs in Reddit's /r/highqualitygifs / Instagram's stories?

Yes, it's in the roadmap. We used to have text effects such as the ones appearing here:



But we came to the conclusion it's too distracting. The thing is that Guggys are essentially an enriched text message, maybe even more than they are GIFs, so we want to make sure that while keeping it visually appealing, we also allow our users to send their message in a clear way, a trait we feel is absent from current GIF products.

I'm not sure I quite get it, will the readers of the posts then have to click these links to actually see the words? That seems a bit impractical. Wouldn't it be better to put the gif itself on the clipboard in that case?

Also important to mention that Guggy is mostly made for messaging/texting. Our main products are iOS/Android keyboards which allow you to share GIFs in messaging apps such as iMessage, FB Messenger, WhatsApp etc.

Ok, that makes sense, but then instead of linking simply to a gif like you did as an example in your post, perhaps link to a whole conversation on twitter/fb, or at least a screenshot of one. To show it in action.

Even better would be an animation showing the whole work flow, since that is your USP, not the end result per se.

On HN yes, but I just shared some on facebook, and they appear on the timeline.

Congrats on your launch.

FYI: I tried visiting your about page [1] and get 'Error! We can't find this page'

[1] https://guggy.com/about

Thanks, will be fixed soon!

developers@guggy.com returns: 'Address not found Your message wasn't delivered to developers@guggy.com because the address couldn't be found. Check for typos or unnecessary spaces and try again.'

Thank you for letting us know. It is fixed now.

>>We don’t store the files at all, we generate them on the fly at each request.

How do you manage to get right image for a text?

Looks like some sort of "sentiment" analysis give the ability to vote/train whatever underlying logic they've built so far.

We have a repository of gifs that are tagged according to our nlp algorithm.

This is great, love it. Even if it doesn't match up with the text quite right, it's still entertaining

Thanks! an insider tip: you can add # following a search term to change the meaning of your sentence. For example: you are so beautiful #ugly

I wanted to write my own message on the images but it did not work. Not sure I understand the concept...

You can go to https://guggy.com/ and just write anything in the input on the top of the page and click on Make GIF.

Is that not working for you?

Just installed and tried out the iMessage app (99% of my messaging is in iMessage) and I for one really like it!


I love guggy on slack. It's always way more fitting for a reaction than giphy.

Thanks! I wonder, are you missing the ability to choose from several options? We haven't implemented that there yet.

Yep, adding that option thing would be great. This could be done similar to the way giphy implements it at the moment. Also, guggy.com/slack doesn't seem to be working at the moment (along with the about page itself)

Just launched a new landing page, will be fixed shortly. Thanks.

If so, please make it an option like with giphy. I personally prefer the 'russian roulette' aspect to just firing and seeing what comes up :)

Plain old text is even more fitting.

How can you offer all those GIFs without infringing copyright?

There hasn't been a precedent so far in considering GIFs as infringing copyright. GIFs generally are considered fair use, contradicted only by cases thus far where the content owner has specifically directed not to create GIFs (which we do not). There are other traits of Guggy (as opposed to other GIF products) that make it even less subject to infringing copyrights.

What about porn gifs? Do you do safesearch?

We don't have any porn, all of are GIFs are PG13.

I've worked with these guys and they're awesome, good luck Rotem and Shahar you're doing great!

Thanks Ran!

Congrats on the launch.

> We’d love to hear your thoughts on our product

I find it useless and just another dash in the ocean of distraction.

> The universe itself is a giant ocean of distraction.

Well said. What makes me a bit sad is that generations of scientists and engineers poured their sweat into building chips, network and a giant incredible infrastructure and what we cheer to is a site with gifs.

I want technology to solve more pressing needs, millions of people commute to work and pollute the environment even tough we have all these internets. And so much else is wasted. Why cannot we have a nicer world - the tech seem to be is here?

Making people smile and cherishing their souls is also a serious endeavor in addition to all that you mentioned )

Interesting point and one that I think of often. I am happy to be working on an entertainment product which makes people laugh and enjoy. Quoting from one of our app reviews - "Life changer, marriage improver, traditional communication killer". That sort of thing makes me feel we're at least working on something positive, and I think that the world is nicer with entertainment and fun, in addition to solving urging medical, environmental, etc. problems.

Appreciate your feedback, we understand it might not be for everyone.

so far the engine itself works for me: the gifs it returns are exactly what I wanted based on my message and it's on iMessage. I'm happy

We are very glad to hear that, thank you

Is there a way to add keywords so you can explicitly pull gifs of different people like say :CaptainAmerica and get just gifs of captin america back without having Cap be in the actual text on the image?

Yes there is. You can use #captain america in the end of the sentence to change the meaning of your sentence.

For example: I'm your hero #captain america

what a nasty, mean, thing to say.


Would you please not do this here? It takes a problem and makes it worse.

My apologies. Feel free to delete my comment.

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