We are taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming (MBA Mondays) to share some exciting news about our newest portfolio company. I wrote this post on the USV blog and am cross posting it here.


At Union Square Ventures, we seek to invest in large networks of engaged users. And we believe that the new beachhead for creating large networks is the mobile device.

When you look at the engaged user on the mobile device, the thing you notice is that messaging is the killer app. People like to talk and increasingly people like to text. But sms has all sorts of issues. It costs money to send a text. There has been a maddening lack of innovation in the sms channel.

So it makes total sense that something will come along and replace texting and we believe that thing is mobile push. And we think the killer app for mobile push is messaging. And for the past year, we have been seeking to make an investment in mobile messaging built on the push channel.

There are no lack of startups innovating in this sector. In fact, there are a ton of them. It is a very crowded space and we have had the benefit of meeting with and getting to know many of the teams working in this sector. There are a handful of excellent teams and excellent apps in this sector. Choosing a team to back has been hard for us.

Today, we have finally made that choice. Our newest portfolio company, Kik, has announced that it has raised a round of financing from RRE, Spark, and our firm. I am joining the board along with Adam Ludwin from RRE.

You may wonder – how did we decide which mobile messaging startup to back? For us, it came down to the product and the team. The Kik product is simple, fast, and elegant. It gets the job done and doesn't get in the way. And the team, led by founder Ted Livingston, has a vision for how to package a lot of power and functionality into a simple, easy, and quick utility. We believe that less is more and that message delivery speed is paramount.

If you want to experience Kik yourself, please visit the download page and give it a try.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. paramendra

    Congrats. Read about this on TechCrunch before reading about it on AVC. For once TechCrunch beat you on your own turf. πŸ™‚

    1. William Mougayar

      TC likes to break the news, and it was probably agreed upon and time embargoed. If you noticed, the blog posts started pouring in right after, so it was all choreographed.

  2. Tony Bacigalupo

    Kik had maybe the fastest adoption rate among my friends of any app I’ve ever seen. It felt like everyone I knew was on it within hours.Congrats to KIk and USV; great teamup!

  3. Pablo Lema

    I’ve been a big fan of Kik and used it to try and get all my friends out of SMS and into a cross-platform messaging app that we can all use. However, I ended up running into network-effect issues. Nobody wanted to join because all our friends weren’t on Kik. What’s the plan to solve that type of problem? Congrats!quick update: what would be very interesting is to have Kik be able to integrate with the OS of the phone to be able to remain always on. When I tried it, sometimes the app would hit me with notifications and other times it would not be open in the background.Maybe the way to do this is to act as a front for both traditional SMS and Kik messages at first and as people send regular SMSs through the app they get upsold on using Kik directly with their friend?

    1. skysurfer172

      Same problem with me. I am having a hard time getting my fellow Gen X friends on KiK. I also hope they improve their content on the home page. Call me stupid, but, I found it difficult to figure out exactly what KiK was at first, had to click around and finally needed to go to Support -> FAQ’s to read what should have been on the main about page, which mostly talks about the founder. The home page was also a little vague – but maybe I’m just getting older. πŸ™‚

      1. ShanaC

        Same problem with me too. I’m finding that of the people who got BB – they are attached to BBM. However, even within that category, there is huge mindshare by kik. It is a matter of getting them off the blackberry and feeling lonely.

    2. RichardF

      it’s a stumbling block for sure and why sms is ubiquitous. Early adopters are writing sms off way too early yet

      1. Pablo Lema

        yeah, the way I’ve solved it for me is to use a Google Voice number. My friends all don’t mind paying for unlimited SMS but I do. So having a GV number now means I can SMS away at no cost. They have no idea i’m not using a native SMS

      2. fredwilson

        not writing it off, just making bets early, before they get too expensive

        1. RichardF

          The comment was not aimed at you, it was a general one, the fact that you invested in Twilio proves that you haven’t written sms off. You are a VC, so it’s your job to make early bets and Kik seem like a good punt, I like what they are doing. Not sure where Facebook fits into all of this though I can’t believe they won’t flex their muscles shortly.sms is brilliantly simple, a 160 character message, across any network in the world on any mobile. There’s no software to download, no people to invite, all you need is a mobile number and you are away. It does cost to send an sms but so does sending a message across the mobile net.The innovation in sms happens in the way that people use it not on the technology itself (It’s too limited in it’s current form for that) I am constantly amazed at the ways in which companies and developers are using sms as I’m sure Twilio can also attest to.The fact that the US were very late to sms and the charging structure has also stifled use and innovation of the service more than in Europe and the Far East. I think it’s pretty likely that in the US because of smart phone adoption you won’t see the innovation in sms services that we’ve seen in Europe.I think that sms and mobile numbers could have a key role to play in authentication and identity on the internet.

    3. fredwilson

      I’m not sure there will be a mobile messaging app that everyone is on. Butwith notifications you can have several on your phone and use whatever yourspecific friend is on

      1. Pablo Lema

        that is true and that is what I was alluding to with the fact that notifications are key for these apps. GV has the benefit of being well embedded in the OS thanks to Android but there is no reason Kik or any other messaging app can’t do the same. The annoyance then becomes having multiples apps for messaging depending on friends. It’s like having a MSN account now for me just to chat with that one friend that doesn’t use gchat or even worse, still uses ICQ! πŸ™‚

  4. Andy Ellis

    Nice, looking forward to seeing Kik continue to grow. Can’t wait for Group chats to be enabled.***Just read Bijan’s post, apparently the version with groups and pictures is hitting app stores today, awesome.Also, congrats on a great pick up. SMS is going the way of the telegraph!

    1. fredwilson

      They are now. Update your kik and your good to go

      1. Andy Ellis

        Thanks, and done. As soon as either RIM unblocks it or I can convince all of my friends to jump ship to Android/iOS I will be a happy man.

        1. fredwilson

          the cheap androids are a good choice for your friendsi ditched RIM for Android last year and it was the best move i made all year

  5. Jeremy Black

    I’m sure I can speak for a few folks up here that are happy to see USV venture across the boarder on this one. It was great that William got you up here to Democamp last March and this is another good signal out of New York. There’s lots of quality VC here already but closer ties with the major US markets are never a bad thing.It would be great to hear yourself or Ted talk about the funding process for Kik one day. They were a huge hit right out of the gate so I would be very interested to hear how things unfolded with USV and other prospective investors.

    1. fredwilson

      We are excited to make our first Canadian investment

    2. Dave Pinsen

      There are some interesting tech companies in Canada, and related to Fred’s recent post about public and private markets, some of them have gone public (via the OTC BB in the U.S., or the TSX Venture Exchange) at fairly early stages.

      1. Jeremy Black

        I’m in Toronto and couldn’t agree more. There are lots of interesting things happening here in enterprise web, mobile, and health. I’m guessing greentech as well although I’m not well versed in that space.Funny, I didn’t draw that linkage between the discussion on public/private markets and something like the TSX Venture Exchange.Do you have a couple examples of such companies? It’s easy to find small cap’s on the TSX Venture, however, it’s another thing to find examples of early stage companies on the TSX V in tech markets that I understand.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          The two examples I had in mind were Destiny Media Technologies (DSY.V on TSX Venture; DSNY.OB on the OTC BB) and PNI Digital Media (formerly known as PhotoChannel; PN.V on TSX Venture; PNDMF.OB on the OTC BB).

          1. Jeremy Black

            Thanks Dave. I’ll check it out.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            No problem, Jeremy. FYI, I have owned both of those before, but I am only interested in buying one of them now (Destiny Media). I have a limit order open for that one.________________________________

    3. William Mougayar

      Thanks Jeremy for the mention. Actually, it was last October’s Democamp.

      1. Jeremy Black

        Oh man. has the last 6 months really felt like a year? That was a good day, Thanks for that. I’m interested to see what David comes up with for the next one with the focus being on female entrepreneurs.

  6. kirklove

    I really want to play poker with you and Bijan. You have some serious tells.There was a fair amount of Kik chatter going on. At least I’ll know when to fold my pocket kings against your pocket aces. πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      Was it an Oreo tell?

      1. kirklove

        Complete with a tall glass of milk.

        1. markslater

          Yep obvious

      2. Dan Sweet

        I thought you said you were going to watch “Rounders” a few weeks back?

        1. fredwilson

          I’ve got it on DVD (Netflix) haven’t watched it

          1. daryn

            hah, I have the netflix envelope with rounders sitting next to my tv too (triggered by the comments here).

    2. Matt A. Myers

      I would like in this game too. :)Fred can fund my startup in a non-traditional way. πŸ˜‰

  7. jfccohen

    Congrats on Kik. Cool platform and will certainly change the way things work when you can start to make pre-determined SMS lists like you do for email on Outlook. I’ve always wanted to create a list of 5-6 recipients (family?) that I can send one text to. I hope this is the bulldozer that will make it happen.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s groups and its available on kik now

  8. guest

    Aww man, no PalmOS/HPOS app?

    1. fredwilson

      Should they build one?

      1. David Shellabarger

        If the Touch Pad does well then yes. Otherwise, no.

      2. guest

        No, probably not. Go where the market is, and it’s not really with PalmOS. (I do have a Pre+ and it is fantastic, though sadly it hasn’t really caught on).Re: David Shellabarger’s comment the new HP tablet will hopefully expand the user-base, but if you have limited engineering resources then obviously Android / RIM / iOS / WinPho are where it’s at.

        1. fredwilson

          I agree

  9. David Haber

    Awesome news – congrats! Love Kik.

  10. andyswan

    OK I’m on, so whoever wants to kik it with me, this is a good time.

    1. andyswan

      Pretty smart to be invested in both twilio and kik. Diversification achievement unlocked.why can’t I use existing profile pic on kik? Or can I?can I reject a contact request?I hope they tie it into the desktop. “convo anywhere you go”smooth interfacecustomize notification sounds?Wow that about page on the site should be called “fluff about the team”…not “about”…because the homepage doesn’t really tell “about” the product, so I click “about” wanting to learn “about” the product…..Apparently if you try to add someone to a threeway, but they aren’t down with the group thing, it notifies them that you tried to initiate a threeway, without asking you if you want to notify them. I find this a bit presumptuous, but hilarious to write about.will edit as I find more.

      1. mike gilfillan

        On for just a few minutes and already trying to reject a request..ouch. :)I was looking to add an existing profile pic as well.

  11. Oo Nwoye - @OoTheNigerian

    Congrats Fred. thats is a good one!When did you first hear of them, during their spat with RIM?

    1. fredwilson

      No. Before that. Can’t remember who turned me onto them. Maybe my daughterwho uses kik with her friends

  12. rfreeborn

    Excellent news on Kik – BBM was the first thing I *really* missed when I moved from BB to Droid. Speaking of that, what do you think about the rumors of BBM opening up and going multi-platform, or with the new investment is that something you can’t/won’t comment on?r.

    1. fredwilson

      I am sure they will do it. I bet kik was illuminating to them

  13. William Mougayar

    Goodbye Beluga, BBM, PingChat- Hello Kik !

  14. CJ

    Gonna try it but can someone explain why Kik is better than SMS and MMS, aside from the grouping thing which seems really cool, isn’t this just text messaging over the internets?

    1. mike gilfillan

      You can find someone by name. I quickly connected with AndySwan after his post above — wouldn’t have been able to do that with SMS/MMS (that I’m aware of).

    2. fredwilson

      comparing mobile push messaging to sms is like comparing voip to wireline telephonythere is no innovation in sms

      1. CJ

        Speaking of innovation, I’d love to see a desktop app for this too. Google Voice/Google Talk has that feature and it’s useful, imagine having Kik’s features on the desktop as well as the mobile and the seamless ability to go back and forth between them. I’d actually pay for that.

      2. BillSeitz

        Why aren’t people using GoogleTalk? Because the client isn’t pretty/social enough?(Is there a multi-protocol Adium-like client for any mobile platforms?)

        1. fredwilson

          I believe mobile only most closely resembles SMS and I think the big opptyis SMS replacement

          1. BillSeitz

            Are you saying that the XMPP protocol behind GoogleTalk has some issue when used in a mobile context?Or are you saying that text-messaging in a mobile context requires a radically different client design that would be confusing for, say, a mobile GTalk user chatting with a desktop GTalk user?(In terms of minor client-design UI changes, you could have different design choices, like how to group your Contacts, in different clients. Or you could even make it a Settings toggle on both clients, maybe with different defaults.)

          2. fredwilson

            More the latter. Its not a technical issue. Its a behavioral issue

  15. RichardF

    congrats to Kik. I don’t understand why Skype hasn’t pushed into this in a bigger way yet.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Indeed.Re: Kik – I am just amazed I wasn’t aware of a service with some (est) 3-4m users?!Just registered – intrigued.Re: Skype – trouble is, like many others I suspect, I am usually always online there – but usually ‘invisible’ but online – just to avoid umpteen random pings from friends/associates/family.Morbidly amuses me to login to my Yahoo! Messenger account now and again – no one is ever online there and at one time it was the key IM communications tool for dozens of my contacts…

      1. RichardF

        I know what you mean Carl re Skype but I just block people rather than being invisible to everyone. Skype should be the 800lb Gorilla in the room but at the moment don’t seem to be.

      2. fredwilson

        bijan has some thoughts on skype on mobile here…

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Thanks, Fred.Good positioning clarification.

  16. jer979

    Tell the Kik guys to put a QR code on their page so I can scan and go directly to the download page in the Android App Market. Kind of like they do at AppBrain. Just simplifies the adoption process. Downloading now.

    1. CJ

      No android market is awesome, I just went there and did a search…BOOM…was downloading seconds later, all without touching the phone.

    2. David Shellabarger

      Actually their download page links to a 3rd party:…Now that Android has an official web store they should link to it instead:…You can push installs straight from the Android web store to your device.Update: Google removed the QR’s on the Android Market website for some reason. Click to install still works though.

      1. Yuriy Blokhin

        Good catch, David. Just fixed the link to point directly to Android Market.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, big issue

  17. optiquezt

    Very interesting investment, especially since they are engaged in litigation with RIM at the moment. It would be very interesting to hear your take on what makes a venture investable despite being tied up in IP litigation.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It’s apart of a bigger plan

  18. Fraser

    Congrats to all involved on the investment.Also, congrats to USV / RRE / Spark on what I think is your first (?) Canadian investment. Lots of fun things happening up here.

  19. baba12

    I had checked them out a while before USV made the investment, but I am not a user as they don’t support Palm’s WebOS platform. DOes yahoo messenger or Google’s chat/talk allow you to do the same. I talk to people in other parts of the world using Yahoo messenger on my Palm Pre and it works fine. Have to see what Kik does when it is available.

  20. Nuke Goldstein

    I heard somewhere that SMS was originally invented to allow technicians communicate without needing to fry their brains.

  21. Michal Mocny

    Woot for University of Waterloo!

    1. fredwilson

      yup. great town. great school. should have plenty of great startups for years to come

  22. Mark Schultz

    Just downloaded Kik. Not too many of my current contacts are there but am going to push this to the family and close friends and see if we can build a little momentum. Some initial feedback… – web site does not do very good job at telling the story. FAQ’s seem to be best feature – can’t seem to use existing picture for profile (or it is hard to figure out how to do that. That’s pretty weak (and easy to do)

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, i agree about existing picture

      1. Renee

        on a related note: the banner constantly asking you to chose a picture at the top, plus the iphone keyboard at the bottom, means that there is very little room to view the actual chat.

  23. kurtains

    I have a couple of questions. Did the blackberry suit cause you any concern? I find myself using whatsapp more just because my network is basically all blackberry and iPhone. I prefer kik but there is just not anyone I can talk to on it yet.How will kik mitigate risk from BBM if they open to android and iOS? I have a hard time convincing anyone not tech savvy to use this. All the noise pushes people back to SMS and BBM. I had a hard time convincing my own brother to use whatsapp (on blackberry) over SMS.Last. Just for curiosity sake, any plans for webOS or NoWin? Not that I actually know anyone with those devices but curious as to whether you think there is growth coming to put $ behind the product in anticipation.

    1. Cherif Habib

      I have the same question. I absolutely love Kik and was using it a ton in the beginning with friends on BB. But then when Kik go kicked out of the BB ecosystem, these friends migrated to What’sApp.Really curious to see how this plays out.

      1. fredwilson

        i use what’sapp too, for the same reason.

        1. Jamie Lin

          Any reason why you didn’t put money in this one that you use?

          1. fredwilson

            One bet per sector. I use kik the most. Way more than the others

    2. ShanaC

      I heard that is the plan for BBM too – to open up to android

    3. fredwilson

      i’ll let Kik talk about roadmap stuffi think BBM is old, yesterday’s network, the myspace of this market

  24. reece

    My iPhone folder “social” is currently a battleground between Kik,, Beluga, Yobongo… hell, throw in Facebook, Twitter and good ol’ SMS and it’s the world war of communications.Quick review:Kik – it works but not many people I know are on it yet.Beluga – seemed to have more people I know on board, but who knows what will happen post Facebook – it works. I like the SMS functionality and they’re a hometown favorite.Yobongo – seems like lots of dudes lurking around a la ChatRoulette.My $.02Bigger picture – mobile is huge and I dig these apps. Hopefully everyone settles in one place soon, because at the end of the day, it’s where my people are that matters.

    1. fredwilson

      two things1) my kids turned me onto Kik. it’s big with the teen crowd who have graduated from bberry to iphone2) i’m not sure we need everyone to settle into one place soon. with notifications, it doesn’t matter much. i use most of the same ones you use

      1. reece

        1. always listen to the kids.2. true, but it’s easier to just have one app (i mercilessly delete apps idon’t use often).

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  25. Jon Lim

    Kik has been around for me (in Toronto) for quite a while now, so a lot of the problems people are having (Not enough friends on it) are long gone. However, I’m not sure if it is still doing this, but when I started, it would alert all of your friends when you joined (It would go through your contact list) and then alert you when someone new joined.Definitely made it go viral very quick, to the point where RIM even kicked it out of Blackberry World and screwed up the delivery for Blackberry users.Haven’t used it much since, but it’s a nice little app – in between WhatsApp and PingChat.

    1. CJ

      Ah, I remember that. There was a small uproar over that.

  26. ErikSchwartz

    As one who reads both you and Bijan I do not find this surprising.Congrats to all.

  27. Avi Deitcher

    One comment, two questions.Comment: As the other commenter said, this is clearly BBM for multi-platform. Good.Q1: As Fred said, “SMS costs money,” OK, that deters people. And if kik is free, where does it make money?Q2: Why is this better/worse/different than Skype?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It can indirectly make money..

      1. Avi Deitcher

        OK, how? They must have a plan, or USV wouldn’t put in money.

        1. fredwilson

          you sure about that?

          1. Avi Deitcher

            I would be, except for how you wrote it.We ain’t back in the 90s, when it was all about “eyeballs” and the “new economy”. You must either have some idea as to how they will monetize, or have faith that the entrepreneurs do (although VCs are usually more analytical than faith-based).?

          2. fredwilson

            we are faith based to the max

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Not true. Having consumers is valuable. And make money through partnerships of sorts.

  28. markslater

    business model? any guess?

    1. fredwilson


      1. markslater

        NFC? Near field com? Or am I missing something?

        1. fredwilson

          I figured you’d guess that. Last word is ‘clue’

          1. markslater

            love that response.

          2. fredwilson

            Sadly it is true. I should start getting a clue

          3. markslater

            somehow i doubt that fred – i am sure there are many options however early they are. I for one will be fascinated to watch how this new paradigm of group gathering will be monetized.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      I know I know!

  29. Evan

    Is there any better marketing for a startup than having a post on AVC?

    1. ShanaC

      yes. This is the kind of product that needs mass adoption. I was talking to this girl I went to high school with on the train (we sometimes catch the same one), about why she got the torch. She NEEDS bbm (there aren’t enough capital for that need). While she’s heard of Kik (she told me about it, even though I have heard of it before and technically use it even though majority of my friends don’t πŸ™ ) she doesn’t see a need for adoption because she has bbm. It is her flirting life (been there, right now mine is through Fring, which I feel meh about). Without signifigant amounts of people being willing to give out their kik, those kind of adopters (who are massive) aren’t moving so fast

      1. fredwilson

        two of my three kids moved from bbm to kik. not sure if the third will make the move but i am hopeful. they turned me onto kik, not the other way around

    2. Donna Brewington White

      BTW, Evan — any exciting news for us?

      1. Evan

        Donna, none for me. Unfortunately my wife lost our baby in the 7th month.:(I appreciate you remembering though, it is sweet of you.

        1. ShanaC

          I’m so sorry

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Oh, Evan! I am so very sorry.If I had any idea, I would not have asked in a public forum. That will teach me!I went through something similar with very dear friends. If you think their experience could be at all helpful to you, please email me. dwhiteATbwasearchDOTcom

        3. RichardF

          really very sorry to hear that Evan

        4. fredwilson

          oh. i am very sorry to hear that. my mom went through that twice and then had three boys, including me. hang in there

  30. awaldstein

    Fred…congrats on this.

  31. ShanaC

    Congrats fyi

  32. Andrew

    *edit*”Since we have removed the SMS messaging capabilities, only people who have the Kik Messenger application can receive Kik messages.” – from the Kik FAQOK, you can ignore the stuff I wrote below and focus on this. How does Kik get new customers for a private chat application when people have to sign up for the service before they can even see what it’s capable of?**I’ve been reading about Kik, Beluga, et al replacing SMS on here and Bijan’s blog over the last week or so. I can see the points being made, but only for people that have constant access to a network. And there are a lot of people who don’t.Maybe it’s living in a non-metropolitan hub in Western Canada, but at this point unlimited SMS is still cheaper than a full-on data plan. Especially since I don’t feel the need to constantly be looped in to my email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The talk is about how SMS has gotten too noisy. In my case, and I suspect in a lot of people’s cases, that hasn’t happened. SMS is like a phone number: you only give it to priority people, those who you want to hear from in an instant. In that sense, it hasn’t lost any of it’s value, and it works in a wider geographic range than mobile web– and it’s cheaper (and less of a battery drain), too.I’m not saying things like Kik aren’t valuable to some people: reading the comments here, they obviously are. But I don’t think SMS is as broken as commentators would have me think. Certainly not to the point that I’m going to ditch my texting plan, throw money in for a more expensive data plan, and start evangelizing to everyone in my key contacts group about why they should do the same and join yet another service, because I can guarantee they won’t see the reasons why, either.The reason I say this is because I really feel like I’m missing something here. And I’d love if someone could tell me what that was.

    1. fredwilson

      there are so many things you cannot do with sms. it is a channel completely controlled by the carriers and there has been absolutely no innovation in sms in years

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Agreed. The carriers had the opportunity to do something with SMS and didn’t.Have to pass on to you like I did Mark… wrote out an obvious offshoot to my plan regarding SMS that is logical utilizing advanced AI but was worried over the carrier’s position re SMS as the true revenue driver. That was at the time the carriers were going to be grilled in the Senate.Thumbs up on investment.



        1. Andrew

          Exactly. And I don’t know about the States, but here in Canada it’s not exactly like the mobile web is open and free. Same carriers, same unreasonable rates.That said, I saw Fred comment elsewhere that he’s hedging his bets early. That makes sense. As internet access on the phone becomes more ubiquitous (and more affordable), I can definitely see where services like this might take off. But as a user, I don’t see them taking off– yet.

  33. Donna Brewington White

    Major congratulations! It does seem that Oreos are becoming the featured menu item at AVC. ;-)BTW, not quite an “oreo” but anyone who aspires to become part of the USV portfolio would be wise to pay close attention to this post. You’ve pretty much laid out what you look for in an investment.

  34. Darren Herman

    I’d been looking at this space as well for investment and consumer usage (what I would use) and have been looking at LiveProfile. The issue I ran into was that my friends had to download LiveProfile as well and most didn’t. Same had to do with Kik. Would love to see them remove this barrier if possible. I guess if enough people are using the app, then the network effect would happen.If they can get Bieber, Oprah, and Kutcher on the app, then many more people would download it. There’s their first marketing push.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think a private messaging service benefits from celebrity usage

      1. Darren Herman

        I disagree. Celebrities like Ashton drive adoption of the mainstream which private messaging services need since users are trying to get their friends to sign up. Celebs can get the masses to sign up.

        1. josh guttman

          BBM and instant messaging svcs are closed networks so celebrities don’t inherently lend credibility unless they’re somehow opening up their networks for discussions and the like. One of the powerful things Kik did early on was scan your address book upon install and connect you with your contacts who have already it. Some thought this was spammy. I thought it was brilliant. I’ve maintained ongoing Kik convo’s with a few of the people who adopted the svc during this phase. They’d be smart to perform updated scans from time to time or establish an email relationship with their users to notify them of new friends on the platform.Update: I just did a manual scan and 35 friends have installed Kik since last scan.

          1. Darren Herman

            Totally. My original comment was meant to leverage those three celebs social media presence to promote the service. An advertising tactic that would promote Kik.

          2. fredwilson

            I wish they had kept that feature. It was awesome



  35. Matt A. Myers

    Congrats Kik, Fred et al. πŸ™‚

  36. Bertil

    Please tell me you did non invest because texts are expensive… That’s an accounting mistake that cell phone carriers have maintained, but as soon as too many people use Kik (and it probably happened already) they will shift contracts to unlimited texts, and discontinue the previous options.

    1. fredwilson

      it is just one of many reasons. the main reason is the sms channel has not seen any innovation and i don’t think it ever will (except possibly pricing changes such as the ones you mention)

      1. Bertil

        Twitter? Advertising, social targeting, spam control? T9, auto-correct, txtspk? Conversation mode, group text, all-you-can eat plans?MMS was a (pricing) failure, but Kik is far from being the only innovation in that area.

        1. fredwilson

          i was talking about sms vs mobile pushnot sms vs kik

  37. zubinwadia

    Well done on Kik! I like where they are going.I also like that they like “long walks on the beach” before they commit to features and do them right. It shows they are in it for the long haul and not just SXSW.The mobile era is just getting started, so much to improve and revolutionize when it comes to the way we communicate as a digital society.BTW, plugging my new gig: SecretSocial ( are all about maximum engagement and conversations of the deeper kind.

  38. Harry DeMott

    Now I want a joint publication:AVC vs. Both Sides of The TableWhich one of our real time messaging services is going to win!What I would love to know – given how many of these services there are out there – and given how none of them is a clear winner yet – how you decided who to back.Was it a function of the team? The vision going forward? the product road map?

    1. fredwilson

      did you read the post?team and product

      1. Harry DeMott

        Dude! Of course.Just wondering what about the product distinguished it. There are a few with similar functionality so I figured the team was key. Also figured something about the product roadmap got you excited.Sat on a Internet panel with Eyal today. Sounds like everything is going well there. Glad for them. He’s a great guy.

        1. fredwilson

          I misunderstood your comment. Sorry about that. There is a usabilitysimplicity elegance and snappiness to kik that is hard to articulate

  39. Vasudev Ram

    Congrats, Kik and USV.I am checking Kik out (ha ha, accidental pun, but I bet there will be some word play on the name by people) – “Kik me”, “Hey I just Kikked you”, etc., come to mind. Wonder whether that was why they chose that name, or was it more due to Kik being like Push (a message to you) or some other reason …The blog or site should have more info about the product features, limitations, etc., though, so people can partially evaluate it before signing up.Hope they are going to put some anti-spam features in place – if there is any way of spamming on Kik, that is. Saying this since it seems like a (partial) replacement for SMS and I, like a lot of people, get some number of unwanted SMS messages from telemarketers. (They get hold of your number illegally by paying employees of organizations that already have it, like your mobile service provider).Ditto for privacy features.I also think that mobile apps should request the least number of permissions from the user, that they need to do their work, for obvious reasons. I have been trying out some Android apps and find that most of those I tried, request all or almost all possible permissions.Agree on the point that there does not seem to be much innovation in SMS – at the infrastructure level, that is, though orgs do keep using it for automated surveys, pushing info to users, etc.- Vasudev

    1. fredwilson

      big fan of the kik brand for many reasons including the ones you mention

  40. JulienNakache

    Hi Fred,Even though I think Kik is an awesome product, I do consider it very similar to… GroupMe, which you did consider too similar to Twitter to invest in :”Union Square Ventures walked away from the deal because it viewed GroupMe as too similar to Twitter, another portfolio company.”http://www.businessinsider….When I read that at the time, I told myself that was a non-sense. I’m actually glad you changed your mind and reconsidered group messaging as a different thing from twitter.Have fun with Kik !

    1. fredwilson

      don’t believe anything anyone says about me or our firm unless you read it on this blog, our blog, or hear us say it outloud.

      1. JulienNakache

        +1 πŸ™‚

  41. Neil

    Cross Platform ‘messaging’ is the way to go. I’m excited for the formation of groups and sending pictures with Kik. Kik gets it whereas many other companies in the space don’t.

  42. Yaron Samid

    I’m bullish on realtime mobile communications but a real concern is that at some point all these always-on apps will suck your battery dry. The only thing more important to people than people, is their phone’s battery. Any thoughts on where were headed with that?

    1. fredwilson

      I carry a spare battery in my pocket at all times

      1. Yaron Samid

        Not an iPhone user eh.

        1. fredwilson

          Never ever ever ever ever

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  43. Matt Unger


  44. Namek Zubi

    I think the biggest strength of such apps is to allow messaging between blackberry and non-blackberry users…so what happens with RIM? Or are they counting on blackberry going away (soon..but not that soon!)..or hopefully fixing this crappy law suit (very bad on your part RIM what a shame, this reminds me of the LVLT and Comcast story)

  45. Peter Iliev

    My girlfriend’s got an iPhone, I’m with android, we tested Kik on the second day after their launch. Push notifications didn’t work for the both of us, so we deleted it. I hope this is fixed in newer versions so I’ll give it a second test run.Anyway, congratiolations on the deal, very good move πŸ™‚

  46. josh guttman

    Congrat’s Fred. Didn’t see this coming, but love Kik and think it has huge potential. The loyalty towards BBM is tremendous and I think one of the intangible factors keeping people on the bberry platform. Taking that functionality cross-platform creates opportunity for huge adoption.

  47. Gregg Smith

    Yesterday my wife, who has way too many important things to do than read @fredwilson or, asked me about Kik.I have a very active group on and Beluga was fantastic for a Disney vacation with an extended family, but more of my non-tech friends are on Kik. Interesting.

    1. fredwilson

      We noticed that too

  48. Dan Sweet

    The “Next” button in the upper right won’t un-grey for me during the registration process on my iPhone. Stuck in the phone number cell with nowhere to go.

  49. jfccohen

    How many increased subscriptions did Kik enjoy from this post?? Got one from me…

    1. fredwilson

      Quite a few. I dont want to report it though