KiK Messenger

Upstart Canadian chat service Kik logs 100 million users

Another high-flying Canadian startup backed by deep-pocketed U.S. venture capitalists has hit an impressive milestone – although it admits it’s still a long way off from generating profits or meaningful revenues.

Kik Interactive, a Waterloo, Ont.-based instant messenger service started in 2009, said Thursday it now has more than 100 million registered users – a 233-per-cent increase in 12 months, and ahead of rival BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). “We’re probably one of two Canadian companies ever to get 100 million regular users,” said Ted Livingston, Kik’s 26-year-old founder and CEO.

Kik’s news came on the heels of a $100-million financing for Ottawa e-commerce software firm Shopify Inc.

Kik is one of several instant messenger services, or “chat apps,” to pick up where BBM left off after the smartphone maker pioneered the mobile-only chat service, an application than enables smartphone users to send rapid messages to one another while bypassing their carriers’ texting service.

For years, BlackBerry Ltd. resisted making its hugely popular BBM available on other platforms, leading to the emergence of rival chat apps that could be used on Apple and Android devices. As those platforms took off and BlackBerry waned, the rival apps surged – including market leader WhatsApp, which boasts 350 million users. BlackBerry finally launched a cross-platform version of BBM this fall, but it now lags its upstart rivals.

These chat services have been tabbed the “killer app” of mobile computing and, along with social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter, are redefining how people communicate in the mobile age.

As a result, Kik and its peers have generated a lot of buzz despite the fact they have little revenue to show for their efforts so far. Kik has raised $32-million (U.S.), mostly from heavyweight U.S. venture capitalists including Foundation Capital and Union Square Ventures. Japan’s Line is reportedly considering going public, while Snapchat, a messaging app than enables users to send photos and videos, announced this week that it had raised $50-million in startup capital, on top of $70-million raised previously. See more at globeandmail