Waterloo-based Kik has become the latest Canadian company to join the illustrious unicorn club (or narhwal!). On Tuesday, the company announced that it had secured a $50-million investment from Tencent, maker of WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, at somewhere near a $1 billion valuation. The strategic investment brings Kik’s total funding to date to $120.5 million.
Kik’s founder and CEO, Ted Livingston, took to Medium to discuss the deal.
“This process started a year ago, when our board asked us if a partnership with a large company might give us an advantage in winning the chat race,” he says. “At first I was hesitant. I was confident we could win the race alone. But, keeping in line with Kik’s principle of considering all the options, I eventually agreed to take a look.”
Livingston then goes on to describe the chat ecosystem that exists in China. According to him, the massive country is a place where someone can go up to a vending machine and use WeChat to pay for a can of pop. When he went to visit Tencent, he saw that the company had already made chat into this type of ubiquitous platform. It follows, then, that it only made sense to partner with them.
“When we met the Tencent team in China, it became clear that we had a shared vision,” he says. “We agreed that someone would do in the West what WeChat was doing in China. The only question was who. We both believe it could be Kik.”
According to TechCrunch, Kik has some 240-million users, many of whom are under the age of 25.