Waterloo's Kik messenger app surpasses 200M users

The Waterloo, Ont.-based messenger app Kik is making its mark in a clogged marketplace featuring giants like Facebook and Snapchat, surpassing 200 million registered users on Wednesday.
Waterloo, Ont.-based Kik CEO Ted Livingston says surpassing the 200 million registered user mark 'doesn't really matter.' (Kik )

The Waterloo, Ont.,-based messenger app Kik is making its mark in a clogged marketplace featuring giants like Facebook and Snapchat, surpassing 200 million registered users on Wednesday.

It’s a major milestone for the company, founded in 2009 by a group of University of Waterloo students, who had fewer than 5 million registered users at the end of 2011.

[I]t’s friends that got them to Kik, and it’s friends that keep them using Kik.- Heather Galt, Kik

"We’re really excited about it. It puts us in a category with few other Canadian companies. From that perspective it’s pretty neat," said Heather Galt, head of marketing at the company.

In a Wednesday blog post, founder and CEO Ted Livingston bluntly writes, "The truth is, it doesn’t really matter all that much," going on to say the company is more interested in knowing how long users are spending in the app.

"Some of our registered users are people who probably used the app one time," explained Galt in an interview with CBC News. "But what gets us excited about our engaged users is those people are coming back. They’re having meaningful, impactful conversation with people they know or people they meet."

Kik says it's done research that shows U.S. Kik users spend an average of 35 minutes per session in the app, ahead of Facebook Messenger at 27 minutes and Snapchat at 21 minutes, but behind Facebook at 37 minutes.

These numbers were collected in an online survey commissioned by Kik and conducted by U.S.-based consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates.

The firm surveyed 1,000 men and women between the ages of 14 to 25 between Nov. 12 and 17 last year. Participants all owned smartphones and had at least one of the following apps: Kik, Facebook/Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Galt said engaged users are driving the growth of the company.

"We do a lot of what we call user chats. So we engage with users who reach out to us and we actually learn a bit about them. So, why do you use Kik? What do you like to do outside of work or school? When you’re hanging out with your friends where do you go, what do you do, what do you eat? What do you like to do in your leisure time?" said Galt.

"And one of the things we always learn from these conversations is it’s friends that got them to Kik, and it’s friends that keep them using Kik."

Kik’s next milestone is improving the 35 minutes to 38 minutes – which would push it 1 minute ahead of the Facebook app.

"We’re focusing on being the WeChat of the west," said Galt, referencing the hugely popular messaging app from China.

"What we’re doing is focusing the company on three different areas. So one is chat, so bringing new and unique features and functionalities to our core chat experience. Second area of focus is our platform, so giving our partners and ourselves more robust features and functions…beyond that core chat. And the third area is around services, so overall giving our users more utility more experiences within the app and more reason to engage within it."