Saved From Death Row, Kik Messenger Continues To Live With MediaLab

On the internet, competition is fierce. Those that can't keep up will be left behind in the harsh business dust.

The same goes for Kik, the free instant messaging mobile app. Back in September, the company announced that it would be shutting down its popular Kik Messenger app to focus on selling its Kin cryptocurrency, and fighting an SEC battle about its Kin cryptocurrency.

But later, the company announced on its blog post, saying that Kik Messenger will continue to live.

This is because Kik has been acquired by MediaLab, a holding company that already owns the anonymous-messaging app Whisper, mixtape-sharing service DatPiff, manga reader Manga Life, and online education platform CoCo E-Learning.

Going forward, MediaLab described its plans for developing Kik:

"Our first priority is to listen. We have some ideas (yes we want larger group sizes and the ability to remove inactive group admins too) but we don’t pretend to know everything or have all the answers. In fact, we’re counting on all of you to help point us in the right direction."

"As part of that increased focus, we’ve made some decisions to pull back on a few features that we felt weren’t optimized."

MediaLab also aims to make the app faster, more reliable and less buggy; making Kik the place for users who have similar interest to connect; and removing spam bots as well as unwanted messages.

And as for the Kin cryptocurrency, MediaLab said that it will be part of the app in some way. The company said that it will “further partner” with the remaining Kik team on "expanding" the Kin integration into the service.

However, maintaining a service won't be cheap. This is why MediaLab also said that it's planning to introduce ads on Kik “over the coming weeks” in a “non-intrusive” way.

Kik Kin

In the past, Kik Messenger has drawn numerous controversies due to its reported involvement in a number of child exploitation incidents. The app has also been criticized as unsafe for minors because of its anonymity features and allegedly weak parental control.

Despite and apart from these, Kik was indeed popular.

Five years after its founding, Kik had raised a total of more than $70 million. In August 2015, Kik received $50 million investment from Chinese Internet giant Tencent, the parent company of the popular Chinese messaging service WeChat.

This investment earned the company a billion dollar valuation.

It was in 2017 that Kik started deciding against more VC funding. Instead, the company raised nearly $100M in a high-profile initial coin offering (ICO) on the Ethereum blockchain. The Kin Coin was released in June 2018.

Seeing this venture as more promising, Kik's CEO and founder Ted Livingston decided that Kik should focus more on Kin Coin by shutting down Kik Messenger. At that time and to also streamline the shifting process, Kik's original announcement was followed by the company saying that it would fire more than 100 employees.

This was deliberately changed when MediaLab acquired Kik Messenger, saving it from a death row.