Kik CEO On The WhatsApp Acquisition: 'I Thought It Would Sell For $US20 Billion'

KikThe Kik team, on a dogsled excursion.

Ted Livingston, CEO of free, Canada-based messaging app Kik, says that Facebook’s enormous, $US19 billion acquisition WhatsApp didn’t surprise him.

The figure might seem astronomical compared to the price of other big social media acquisitions like that of Instagram for $US1 billion, but messaging apps like Kik and WhatsApp have way more users and way more activity. Prior to the acquisition, Livingston had actually discussed valuations at that level.

“When I would talk about how valuable I thought that messaging apps would be, I would say, ‘I bet you if WhatsApp were sold today, it would go for $US20 billion,'” Livingston told Business Insider.

It did, however, make it “really real” just how important mobile messaging apps are becoming to big tech companies: They’re becoming “table stakes,” Livingston says.

Kik is the only one of the other Big Five messaging apps — that is, Kik Line, WeChat, KakaoTalk, and WhatsApp — that’s currently bigger than WhatsApp in the U.S., but Kik and Kakao — roughly the same size — are the two smallest apps globally in terms of users.

Earlier this month, Kik introduced a new built-in, HTML5 browser. Clearly, like WeChat and Kakao, the company is taking a completely different path than WhatsApp’s famed “no gimmicks” approach. Livingston says that his goal is not to get Kik acquired, it’s to develop it into a larger, all-encompassing platform.

“Since the beginning, we’ve been asking, if you make a great mobile messenger, what does that give you leverage to do next?” Livingston says. “We want to usher in the mobile web era.”

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