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.”

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Want to read a more in-depth view on the trends influencing Australian business and the global economy? BI / Research is designed to help executives and industry leaders understand the major challenges and opportunities for industry, technology, strategy and the economy in the future. Sign up for free at

Tagged In

html5 sai-us whatsapp