China’s internet giant Tencent invested $50 million in Canada-based mobile messaging firm Kik Interactive, with Kik stating that “there are only five other companies in the world that see the world like we do — Tencent, Line, Facebook, Snapchat and Telegram”.
Kik is looking to mimic the success of the Chinese firm’s popular WeChat app, Reuters said. “We agreed that someone would do in the West what WeChat was doing in China. The only question was who. We both believe it could be Kik,” the Canadian company wrote in a blog post.
Kik was reported to be looking for a partner earlier this year, including talks with companies from Silicon Valley and Asia. The Tencent investment apparently values the company at more than $1 billion, but Kik declined to state the size of the stake involved.
The Kik messaging platform has 240 million users and is popular with teenagers in the US.
WeChat is the most popular chat app in China, but user growth has slowed, and Tencent has taken steps to expand into e-commerce in China. A year ago it formed a venture with China’s Dalian Wanda group and Baidu to set up an online-to-offline platform.
Tencent has been aggressive over the past year, investing in more than 30 tech startups and app companies, including taxi-hailing app firm Didi Dache in early 2014, mobile e-commerce platform Koudai and JD.com, China’s largest direct-sales marketplace.
In June it completed the second phase of a “strategic investment” in Glu Mobile, following a partnership announced in April 2015. Tencent now owns around 15 per cent of the smartphone and tablet games company.