Tencent has been investing in a number of companies lately, and the latest series D funding target for China’s largest internet company might come as a surprise to some: Kik Interactive, Inc., the creator of the popular Kik Messenger application.
The $50 million strategic investment by Tencent into Kik will be used to double the company’s size as it continues to build experiences and services for U.S. youth. Kik is now valued at $1 billion.
Last year, Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston stated his intention to make Kik the “WeChat of the West,” pointing to the power of Weixin to facilitate connections and enable an ecosystem built around messaging. This investment allows Kik to further pursue that goal with the support of Tencent.
“We can’t think of a better group to be building for”
Kik has aspirations that run parallel with Tencent’s own intent for WeChat/Weixin, with Kik planning to build a chat-based ecosystem around its stronghold of American youth. Seventy percent of Kik’s 240 million registered users are aged between 13 and 24 years old. Approximately 40 percent of U.S. teens use Kik.
“Young Americans are a large group with unmet needs. We can’t think of a better group to be building for,” said Ted Livingston, founder and CEO of Kik
“I made a list of every major company we could partner with,” Livingston wrote on Medium. “Some were tech companies, some were content companies. Some were in the U.S., some were in Asia. Then, beside each company, I wrote two hypothetical stories with imagined outcomes about what we accomplished together in the first year, in both dream and nightmare scenarios. From these stories, I extracted a list of pros and cons and used them to prioritize the options.”