Tencent has invested $50m in Kik, the teen–focusedchat app which aspires to be the ‘WeChat of thewest’, valuing the Canadian start–up at over $1bn.
The Chinese internet group, which owns WeChat, is betting that Kik could replicate its ownsuccess in developing chat apps into a platform that incorporates everything from ecommerceto banking in the US.
Kik raised funds from venture capitalists including Union Square Ventures, which backedTwitter, and SV Angel, an investor in many social apps including Pinterest, last November.
去年11月，Kik从包括合广投资(Union Square Ventures)和SV Angel在内的风投机构获得了融资。合广投资曾投资Twitter，而SV Angel则是Pinterest等众多社交应用的投资方。
But it had hired advisers to explore more strategic investments, including, it was reported, apossible sale.
Ted Livingston, chief executive of Ontario–based Kik, said Tencent was always at the top of itswish list of potential partners. He is looking forward to bouncing ideas off Tencent as hedevelops more services for Kik.
The teen–focused app allows people to watch YouTube videos within chat and haveconversations with ‘marketing bots’ programmed to give both helpful and funny answers.
这个专注于青少年的应用软件允许人们在聊天过程中观看YouTube视频、以及与“marketing bots”程序进行对话。“marketing bots”是一个提供既有用又好玩的答案的程序。
However, he wants to expand into other services that look to target teenagers while they arestill forming their shopping habits.
“For all these youths coming online for the first time it is an opportunity for ecommerce sitesand financial institutions to build something amazing just for them, in a place they arespending all their time anyway,” he said.
Some 70 per cent of Kik’s 240m registered users are aged between 13 and 24, with thecompany estimating that about 40 per cent of US teens use Kik.
Tencent’s WeChat and Weixin, both similar chat apps, boasted 600m monthly active users lastquarter, up 37 per cent year on year. But the vast majority of these users are based in Chinaand the company does not yet have a foothold in the US.
However, Tencent, like Chinese rival Alibaba, has been busy investing in western technologycompanies. It is widely reported to have invested in Snapchat, the disappearing photomessages app, as well as Whisper, an anonymous messaging app, Cyanogen, a mobilecustomisation app and Scanadu, a maker of health diagnostics hardware. Alibaba’s VC arm hasalso invested in Snapchat, as well as messaging app Tango.
Mr Livingston said many western social apps did not understand the value of chat as aplatform for other services. But he said Facebook had showed it did understand when it hiredDavid Marcus, former chief executive of PayPal, to lead its work on messaging. Facebook hassince begun integrating payments and conversations with retailers into the FacebookMessenger app.
利文斯顿称，西方很多社交软件并不理解聊天应用作为其他服务的平台的价值。但他称，Facebook聘请了PayPal前首席执行官戴维氠鎚斯(David Marcus)来领导通讯方面的工作，这表明它理解了这一平台的价值。从那之后，Facebook已开始将支付和与零售商交流的功能整合在Facebook Messenger软件中。
However, Mr Livingston said Facebook was no longer the preferred destination of teens. “If youare a retailer going after adults you will use Facebook Messenger but every study out thereshows teenagers don’t like Facebook, they have it but they have it in the same way we all havea driver’s licence,” he said.