MEET THE DEVELOPER
The GIF That Kept on Giving
The creator of Momento on the unlikely origin of his GIF-making app.
GIF Maker by Momento
Video to GIF & Stop Motion
Genady Okrain’s GIF-making app, Momento, has been used to generate more than 7.5 million GIFs—a huge number for an app that its creator basically forgot about for two years.
Momento dates back to 2014, when the Tel Aviv–based Okrain released the inaugural version, called Strobe, on the App Store. But Strobe wasn’t very flashy, he admits. The design was basic UIkit—or, as he puts it, “kind of ugly.”
“I think maybe 60 people bought it, and 59 of them were friends of mine,” he says, laughing.
And so Okrain did something perfectly logical: He gave up. “After a few weeks, it still wasn’t getting any sales,” he says. “I took it down and forgot about it.” He moved on to consulting on product launches for other companies, all the while learning about UI design. Two years went by.
Things changed in the summer of 2016, when Okrain attended Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. That was the year Apple announced the App Store for iMessage, which made it possible to adorn messages with stickers and GIFs. “It struck me,” he says, “‘Oh, I have this old thing, and I bet it would fit perfectly.’” He had only three months to get Momento together before the iMessage feature launched, so he dug up his old project and got to work. “By then, the APIs were different and all the photo stuff had a new framework,” he says. “I’d also learned a lot design-wise.”
He gave Momento its new name and UI; soon it was getting gushing write-ups in the tech press, and Okrain’s once-forgotten app was seeing hundreds of thousands of downloads. By December 2016, Momento was a fixture on the App Store charts. In the years since, Momento has only grown. Okrain now has a full-time designer and a part-time developer. Not only that, but Momento’s workspace on the 61st floor of Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Sarona Tower, Okrain says with pride, is on the highest office floor in Israel. “We have a really nice view of the beach,” he says. And it’s all because he saw an opportunity to bring back a good idea. “It just needed a few iterations.”