The Kik Bot Platform

Our portfolio company Kik launched its bot platform today. Kik has supported bots for several years but they were limited to bots from publishers and brands that were willing to make a significant effort to be on the Kik platform.

What is new today is that any developer can build a bot for the Kik platform. Details and tools are available to do that at dev.kik.com. And once you build your bot for Kik, it is available in the bot store in Kik.

kik bot shop

Kik has been innovating in the “chat as a platform” space for three or four years now. They have been a real pioneer in this area. You may recall Kik Cards which are html micro apps that run natively in Kik which has its own built in browser. Cards still exist but Kik found out that “chatting” is the more native user behavior in chat apps so conversing with a bot turns out to be more powerful than running a micro web app in a messaging app. That said, Kik still supports cards for bots that need to display content as part of its user experience.

Kik is also leveraging its “Kik codes” to make bots easily discoverable and shareable. Here is an example of a Kik code:

build your bot

So if you own a retail store, restaurant, etc you could put your Kik code sticker on your window and your customers and walk-by traffic could communicate with your bot and get offers, coupons, etc.

I am expecting developers to turn their attention to bots in the coming months as multiple chat platforms will be supporting them. Right now in the US, you have Kik, Slack, and Telegram supporting bots natively on their platforms. And most everyone expects Facebook to launch their own bot platform at the upcoming F8 event.

And there are quite a few bot development platforms emerging that will allow developers to “write once, run many” so you can build a bot for all of these platforms instead of having to choose one or the other.

So it may well be that we are going from websites>native mobile apps>bots as the dominant way users will interact with your business. At least many people are projecting that. I am proud that Kik’s team continues to lead and innovate in this sector.

#bots#mobile

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    The web is getting more re-decentralized, which is a good thing.I read somewhere that scanning QR codes or offers is a lot more popular in Asia than it is in the Western world. Any stats on required usage thresholds to turn this habit into a significant engagement factor?

    1. pointsnfigures

      The re-decentralization offers arbitrage opportunities since the web is so vast no one can know everything that is going on. If one part of the web goes viral on one thing, analyze it-repurpose it, and launch it in another web silo.

      1. andyswan

        This is a personal philosophy and approach of mine since 2000…. watch what tech takes off among the young masses (de-risked) and then try to apply it to the financial industry. That’s basically what our company does. It’s pretty fun!

        1. CJ

          A lot of my ideas lately are around that sorta thing and the Enterprise IT space.

        2. Jeff Jones

          Hi Andy – what are some examples of where you applied this philosophy in the FS industry? Social, mobile related products?

          1. markslater

            disappearing insider trading messages…

  2. JimHirshfield

    Interesting, seems everyone has bot into this. (Ugh, sorry, cue the boo bots)

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Bot are you sure of that?And what’s all this abot anyway?

  3. Jess Bachman

    I’m really not convinced that bots or chat-UI is the future. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to guess at the right words to say in order to get the damn thing to do what I want. I’ll take a few explicit buttons any day of the week.

    1. andyswan

      I’m a bot. You’re quite dapper, and you make excellent points.See… you like me already!

      1. Jess Bachman

        /Ignore Swanbot…/Remove Swanbot…/Hush Swanbot…/Silence Swanbot…/Betchslap Swanbot….one of these is bound to work…

        1. Vasudev Ram

          If all else fails:/Kik

    2. Twain Twain

      We all read about MS Tay chatbot’s disaster & what happened on Twitter.There is a LOT of hard heavy-lifting in Nat Language Processing & syntactic structures to be invented. It’s the elephant in the room people in AI are only starting to publicly discuss:* http://www.cmswire.com/digi

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        AI is a very big bite !CI – Working out techniques for Collective-Intelligence via the network-effect seem more immediately accessible ?

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Sending BOTS(processes) messages to which they respond via their endemic palette of internal methods. I thought that is how the whole universe operates. Exponentially amplified by the adaptive organic messaging-interplay at the biological level!EVERYTHING is a neural-net of localized processes that respond-to and give off messages. So we are finally coming back to object oriented everything in computing .A few universally explicit noun/verb messaging memes would seems more effectively explicit than a plethora of idiosyncratic App buttons. The key is to start with UNIVERSAL/STANDARD nouns/verb messages that operate across all Apps like any other workably shared natural language.Top down mimicking of biological organizational pattern/process seem anathema to modern computing. We seem to be focused on reinvention everything from the bottom up as unique computing processes instead of recognizing that most computing challenges are analog instantiation of preexisting generic bio-adaptive solution.Messaging as the core organizational paradigm in a world dominated by distributively adaptive/synchronized social organization (i.e. collective-Intelligence via the network-effect) seems decades overdue!McLuhan – Douglas Hofstadter – James G. Millerhave been pounding that metaphor/narrative drum for decades with little mass culture success 🙁

      1. CJ

        This is sorta the way REST Webservices work…sorta with the common nouns/verbs but also extensible.

  4. andyswan

    “Bot fever” is taking hold and it reminds me of Bitcoin hype. VC’s, developers and platform creators out in front by a HUGE margin…. but where is the user demand?I *think* this will turn out better than Bitcoin/Blockchain has (so far), because bots don’t require a massive shift in consumer behavior (if they’re good)…. but the way the “tech elite” are out in front of their skis feels familiar.”If you build it, they will come”…. unless they don’t.

    1. fredwilson

      yes. but we get paid to take those risks. if you wait until its mainstream, you pay billions. i like to pay single digit millions.

      1. andyswan

        Was raising a yellow flag for the entrepreneurs considering diving into a shallow pool head first.I never question another man’s bets.

        1. LE

          I was recently at the enormous pool of a famous resort in Miami Beach. The last time I was there was as a kid. When they had these things, get this, they were called “diving boards”.

        2. fredwilson

          why is an entrepreneur’s bet different than mine?because i am a portfolio player?

          1. andyswan

            Yes two reasons:1) You’re a portfolio player — her 0 is your -5%2) Your bet (generally) comes after her traction has been established

          2. David Semeria

            Absolutely. Betting the ranch is different to betting a twentieth of the ranch. There’s no denying, however, that both situations involve a similar risk/return analysis.

          3. LE

            Except per my point (and I am fine with being corrected if I am wrong) he is not betting a 20th of the ranch (of his own personal assets).

          4. LE

            Not only do you have a portfolio of bets, but you have, we can assume, a safety net as well.The main thing you risk is your reputation, self esteem, and of course being able to raise additional money. Financially though it appears that you have little downside. Meaning all of your bets could go bad and you will still retain your house and all of your assets and be able to live quite well.The entrepreneur also risks time. Of course most likely he has more time than you do (he is younger typically) however he also risks opportunity cost.Now if you compare that to a typical real estate developer who builds a building and has to sign personally with all of his assets (or even a guy running a small company who needs a loan to expand) it’s certainly not as scary.

      2. Twain Twain

        USV is looking for creative AI, right?Facebook just shared their artist AI at NVidia’s GPU conference.It gets trained on Old Master landscapes (left-hand side) and then if you say, “Make me a piece with trees, a lake, a farm, sheep…” it generates the painting on the right.LOVE LOVE LOVE being in SV and being able to see & experience these things first!

        1. Sebastien Latapie

          Wow, super cool!

          1. Twain Twain

            Sure, Deep Learning can seemingly do “art” but still …NOT get the machines and chatbots to understand our language meanings, context and [email protected]:disqus – Re your reasonable comment, “CI – Working out techniques for Collective-Intelligence via the network-effect seem more immediately accessible?”, remember…There are several seriously hard problems that haven’t yet been solved in AI so I’m, necessarily, an UNREASONABLE person of the type George Bernard Shaw describes and Steve Jobs advocates.I’m perfectly capable of being “reasonable”. After all, it’s extremely rare for a person to be promoted into CEO-Chairman’s Office of a Tier 1 bank by their mid-20s AND by Special Committee (the first time it ever happened in the bank’s history) AND for their colleagues to write about their “prodigious work” in their performance review unless they’re reasonable people, collaborate well with others and are super-disciplined about executing on multiple projects.When mentored by great people, there are practically no limits to the velocity at which I learn and deliver on my potential.When obstructed by not-great people who say something can’t be done, I remember the other George Bernard Shaw quote.Sure, it’s possible to harness Collective Intelligence and network effects …Nonetheless, tools & system invention can also be made at the same [email protected]:disqus – It’s almost impossible for investors to “pattern recognize” inventors and outliers like Jobs+Woz, Satoshi etc.Even Wharton professors like Adam Grant are amiss. He says originals like Steve Jobs & Woz are “procrastinators” because they didn’t immediately leave their jobs to found Apple.On the contrary, originals are super-focussed on strategic objectives and do things in own time schedules rather than other people’s dogmas & “norms,” and that includes time.It’s not procrastination. It’s productive product-market timing.

      3. kidmercury

        siding with fred in this beef. slack has really already proven out enough of this to have faith in what will come.

        1. CJ

          Slack has made IRC cool again. Now I’m just waiting for USENET and Gopher to come back! 😀

          1. Vasudev Ram

            In some ways, we’ve actually regressed from Usenet, IMO. Except for bulletin boards (does anyone use them still?), many forums don’t even have proper nesting of messages and replies – beyond a depth of a few levels.

          2. CJ

            I know! Threaded messaging is harder on the CPU, so back in the day they lost to the less cpu expensive option. I hate it but thankfully the sites I use the most have Disqus, threading or… Reddit.I wonder if that’s a coincidence, somehow I doubt it.

          3. JAK TRAN

            maybe you want to try this getforum.co 😀

        2. andyswan

          no beef

        3. pointsnfigures

          People I know on Slack love the bot

    2. CJ

      I’m trying to figure out the intersection of this, voice assistants, and the IoT. Or any two of the three. I think there is a kickass product waiting to be built there, I just gotta get my head around where the best value creation is in that mix.

    3. Jim Ritchie

      We’ve bought into “bot” fever. Adding some real intelligence and machine learning behind the bot that is domain specific is the key to adding real value. We are building a “sales bot” for B2B sales folks.

      1. andyswan

        Nice!  We will buy in too I’m sure

      2. pointsnfigures

        interesting

    4. jason wright

      the developers will come. when they can build on blockchains and sidechains to increase their margins they will abandon centralised markets controlled by incumbents.bitcoin is the reserve currency of the altcoin world. it is not itself the future of blockchain tech, but it is the funding pool of the future of the tech.

    5. Vasudev Ram

      >but the way the “tech elite” are out in front of their skis feels familiar.Ha ha, great visual image.This is the best I could do, with ASCII art and as a non-skier: /– 0> /–/ —-

    6. JamesHRH

      Bots need to nail the 80% of the users need these functions 80% of the time use case.then they will take off…..BDOT bot, directions bot, inventory bot, etc.

  5. jason wright

    is there a live example of a bot in action? i need to wrap my mind around reality and not theory.

    1. CJ

      You can spin up a Slack instance and add a bot. Not sure about Kik, I haven’t played with their system yet.

      1. jason

        Can you recommend a really good bot for Slack? I’ve been using it for months, and like it better than email for discussions with the humans on my team, but haven’t found any bots I care about

    2. Rick Mason

      I’ve mentioned on here before but if you’re in Waterloo there’s a restaurant near Kik’s offices where you can text your order, pay for it from your phone and they just bring you the food. Add a robot to make the actual food delivery and you’ve got a real glimpse of the future.http://venturebeat.com/2016

  6. kevando

    I really liked Ted’s post about thishttps://medium.com/@tedlivi…

  7. markslater

    super excited about this fred – we are meeting with the KIK guys next week – we are building some exciting stuff there….

  8. Joe Lazarus

    I can see how bots will replace many uses of dedicated apps, particularly for services that are used infrequently. But, part of me will miss the more unique experience of going to a destination site or app. Bots seem useful if done well, but lack the personality, style and ambiance of entering a dedicated app experience. It’s like ordering take-out vs dining at a restaurant.

  9. Scott Lahde

    From the Kik site: “Kik lets you connect with friends, groups and the world around you through chat. And now, you can chat with bots too.” WTH? Call me daft, but why would I want to chat with a bot? Oh, so I can communicate with a retail store or restaurant and get offers? I used to use Foursquare a lot to do that, and let’s take a look at where that strategy has gotten them. Kik’s move feels like a meta of a meta and like yet another tech company that’s so out of touch with reality. Tidal shift may indeed be moving toward messaging/chat, great, but these companies adopting bot dev as a platform for growth, need a serious rethink on monetization strategy, cause I’m not convinced bots are it. Please explain to me how I am wrong or simply daft. I’m all ears. 😉

  10. David

    Isn’t Kik the company that broke NPM by strong armed taking over a distribution namespace, that already exists causing what 2700 NPM packages to be removed from NPM by the same author?And how is Kik an innovation in the bot space? Or the Chat space, given all the bots already existing for say Slack?

  11. Marissa_NYx

    Comment on use case: my team are testing learning bots in education , specifically to create data used in real world simulations . Bots make sense here in so many ways . Think of it like an on demand newsfeed.

  12. Chimpwithcans

    I think there’s a typo in the Kik “partners” tab on the website – is “experiecence” a word?

  13. Chimpwithcans

    Was that little paperclip that appeared on MS Word back in the day a bot?? If so i’m not a fan.

  14. cavepainting

    The experience and the outcome of using a bot has to be > experience of downloading and using a native app and the productivity related to getting the job done.At this moment, apps trump bots big time.Many of the bots on kik (example: sephora) seem to be super rigid and cannot figure out what the user is trying to do. Chat is great for talking to people. But is engaging with bots the best way to shop, search for products, pay bills, log service tickets or accomplish any other job you may need to get done with a business or institution ? Comparisons with Wechat are not exactly accurate; the wechat model is more like “apps within apps”; the experience is seamless and native-like for the end user.There is a reason why native apps work well. They are immersive, highly interactive, and simple to understand and use. Until bots meet or exceed this threshold, users may prefer to download vs. deal with a suboptimal experience.There may be a subset of simpler use cases where the bots have an advantage.I am not sure what these are but even here, they would need to do as well if not better than a google search.

  15. Valera Ivanov

    These bots seem quite fun, i recently came across this bot store botarea.com and found many interesting bots for KIK. They are all free.

  16. Giuliano Iacobelli

    Hey Fred, I had a chat with Albert about future of programming (piecing and orchestrating APIs as building blocks) and Bot development is the perfect use case for this world.The thing I love about bots is that developer’s work is pure logic, again. No fiddling with CSS or long iterations to build UI on different clients. Anyone with the tool can be a Bot developer today and I believe there is a great opportunity for who nail down this.Kik bot platform is great, we’ve already integrated it and I can tell that has far better APIs than Telegram (even if it’s a pity that Kik can’t handle user location.. yet)ps. check your email 🙂