Twitter acquires &GIF Twitter’s always been socially mobile. Instagram stole much of the lunch that chat and SMS once provided, but Twitter maintained its status as a full-on utility for communicating immediately to others. But co-founder Biz Stone told TechCrunch in 2017 that “Twitter is mobile.” And now it wants to take the onus off of users to app install and get on to mobile — it’s bought mobile storytelling platform Chroma Labs, which turns beautiful mobile stories into a “magic window” full-screen media editor.
Yonatan Glickman, who founded Hashable, GPS data visualizer Shareaholic and now co-founded Chroma Labs, tells me he was inspired to tackle visual media when he saw mobile ephemerality making it hard to hear someone’s whole thought when the conversation moves away from your phone. Now the 11-person startup will move from its office in New York City to Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.
Chroma Labs’ aim was to “help publishers and online publishers learn how to help their readers create amazing video stories.” The first thing users see is their entire story in-full, framed by newspaper-inspired typefaces, vertical timeline previews and parallax scrolling. Chroma Labs has built a smartphone app that lets people select elements like text, images, music, filters, jump to other stories they love or video, and edit their entries on a computer or edit photos/video offline.
Once the video gets posted, users can also edit it with Instagram-style overlays that overlay photos or video between features, transitions, text and music. So you can edit a GIF from your phone with your editor and get views from their former Vine Vine to their kid’s birthday party. Glickman tells me that Twitter will move Chroma Labs’ team to San Francisco, but the app will stay around for now. Users can sign up for a limited invite to see how it works here.
Chroma Labs previously raised $5.5 million from Khosla Ventures and others from a seed round, and as an afterthought just raised $2.5 million more. Much of its financials will now be handled by Twitter, rather than back the startup.
If you’re excited for what this means for mobile media, you won’t be seeing Chrome video cards to let you do GIFs from the web. You won’t be seeing autoplaying, GIF-ready videos like those offered by Twitter’s others mobile app. But you will be able to get your mobile stories ready to share from elsewhere.
While Twitter is a backbone for media, it rarely grabs the spotlight with marquee video features, like how Instagram simply captures photos and videos, and videos on Snapchat get the compression engine of the moment to save playback time.
One upside for folks who tweet all day would be that not so many Twitter users have a desire to spend time on their mobile devices. Twitter has a large base of people who want to keep a constant flow of live conversations, and the rollout of Spectacles broke up that chore a bit.
What Twitter may lack in graphic features, it’s hoping Chroma Labs will easily make up for in the delight of seeing a polished mobile video alongside news, videos about movies or game demos, or videos of your art.