As Facebook’s power in the internet industry grows, there’s one startup that thinks it has a key advantage to beat out the company’s grip on our social lives.
“We have something that Facebook doesn’t have, and that’s the idea of freedom,” said Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston onstage at Ignition 2015.
Kik is a messaging app that’s grown widely popular among teens and now has more than 250 million users. One key difference from Facebook’s social network, which Kik’s teen users have latched onto: not having to tie your account to your phone number.
Facebook makes its users sign up with their real-names — and can shut down people’s accounts when they don’t abide.
Teens and other groups on Kik, like Reddit moderators, like being able to have multiple identities at once, says Livingston.
“We say you can be whoever you want to be,” Livingston said. “You can have as many identities that you want.”
Facebook still has the advantage of its user base. More than one billion people use the platform every day, and many of those use Facebook Messenger to communicate. Kik has the tough task of convincing people to use another chat app, but Livingston knows that. In August, the largest messaging company in China made a strategic investment in Kik to help bolster its effort.
“The thing that gets me excited is that we are the under dog,” Livingston said. “We’re in this position where we’re forced to work with everyone else to take on Facebook.”