18-Year-Old Likes GIFs and Memes So Much, He Coded an App for Sharing Them

University of Toronto computer science student Shiv Baijal likes GIFs and Memes. So much so, that the 18-year-old decided to code and launch an iOS app devoted to finding the most popular and shared GIFs and memes on the internet.

Zest allows users to search for find memes and easily share them via iMessage, or search via a search engine. It’s a simple app that the student coded in about seven months.


“It goes on different blogs, and on tumblr and reddit, and analyzes how quickly different content gets a response and if this content is considered ‘good content’ (if it receives a high like count within a specific period of time) then it enters the feed,” Baijal told BetaKit. “All the GIFs are optimized so it loads on the phone quickly and you don’t have to wait. It’s the same thing with memes and images, we look at different blogs and servers determine the most popular content.”

history guy

Baijal came to Canada when he was 11 and lives in Toronto. He said his favourite meme is “History Guy,” a popular meme showing a interviewee on the History Channel’s television show “Ancient Aliens”. History Guy’s caption became wildly popular with meme users everywhere largely based on the facial expression and accompanying hair. His name is Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, an alien expert who often tends to explain inexplicable phenomena as the direct result of aliens or extraterrestrials being on Earth.

Like the point of memes in general, Baijal said the whole point of Zest if for people to share with friends, “and so far I’ seeing a fair amount of users in terms of messaging with iMessage.”

While sharing GIFs and memes via iMessage is a simple API, Baijal said there’s no other app right now that is allowing quick and easy mobile sharing of GIFs and memes.

I asked Baijal if he wants to lead a startup in a few years. If he’s already coding clean web pages and impressive iOS apps, one has to assume he has a future in the tech world.

“Possibly: I’m interested in consumer mobile startups, or possibly even starting one in the future but I’m not really cordoning myself off to one specific path right now,” he said. “Just keeping it open.”

Spoken like a confident young man.

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