Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo's Kik Interactive partners with China's Tencent in $50M deal

Chinese company Tencent is investing $50 million into Waterloo, Ont.-based messenger company Kik Interactive.

New partnership aims to change the way we use chat apps

KIK says they've received $50 million in investments from Chinese tech company Tencent, the makers of WeChat. (Amanda Grant/CBC)

Chinese company Tencent is investing $50 million into Waterloo, Ont.-based messenger company Kik Interactive.

Kik says the new partnership will give the company access to Tencent's expertise as the creator of WeChat, the top messenger app in China.

The app, which is used by half a billion people in China, goes far beyond a basic chat service.

Kik CEO Ted Livingston says partnering with Tencent is a natural fit for his company. (Kik )
 

"WeChat users can find out their local weather forecasts, they can plan a trip to the movies, they can hail a taxi all without leaving the app," said Paul Gray, Kik's director of platform services.

"We're starting to see a similar trend emerge with a new generation of people in our markets in the U.S. so we're building out a platform of services and products that our users will want to engage with everyday."

While WeChat offers Kik a chance to expand far beyond their messenger service, Kik offers Tencent a North American audience. 

"Their focus is very much on their home markets in China particularly, where as Kik has built a great user base. We have over 240 million users on the platform primarily in the U.S. So for Tencent its an opportunity to reach that audience as well," said Gray. 

Kik to add 100 new jobs

With the new influx of capital Kik plans to focus on developing the app to be more integrated in people's day-to-day routines, whether that's allowing you to listen to music through the app, or help you buy groceries and book appointments, Gray said.

But in order to do that, they'll need more staff.

"We're actually plan to double our team size in the next year," said Gray.

That's about 100 new jobs, Gray said, and the majority of them will be in Waterloo Region.

"We're very much committed to having a strong head office in Waterloo," Gray told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition. 

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