Kik Interactive, the Canadian company behind the Kik messaging app, secured $38.3 million in Series C funding and announced its first ever acquisition, as it reached 185 million users.

The company plans to use the funding to invest in product development and further grow its engineering and business development teams. The round brings Kik’s total funding to $70.5 million.

Kik also announced its first ever acquisition in the form of GIF messaging player Relay, which it said “brings Kik to the forefront of visual messaging”.

“Chat is at the core of the mobile era, and the Relay acquisition coupled with the recent funding puts us in a really strong position to dominate in chat,” commented Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston.

Relay founders Jon McGee and Joe Rideout will move over to Kik, with the Relay service being discontinued from 15 December.

In addition to the user base milestone, Kik revealed that more than 50 per cent of active users share content each day, with users spending an average of 97 minutes per week in the app.

It was also claimed that more than 250,000 new users join the service every day, with 68 per cent of the total user base located in the US.

The company has been working to broaden the functionality of the messaging platform.

Just last week, it launched a new feature called ‘Keywords’, which lets brands reply to users’ questions by picking up on keywords and sending them pre-set responses.

It also launched ‘Promoted Chats’ in August, which enables brands to chat and share content with Kik users, and before that, added browser functionality to enable users to surf the web without having to leave the app, in the hope of increasing usage time and engagement.

In June, Livingston said the company intends to remain an independent entity despite megadeals involving rivals WhatsApp and Viber in 2014.