Founder and CEO of Kik Interactive, Inc.
Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Company: Kik Interactive, Inc.
Ted Livingston got fond of software development when he was a student at the University of Waterloo. In 2007 he was a trainee at BlackBerry (back then the company was called Research In Motion). This was the best start of a career that anyone could only dream of. Soon Livingston got a job of the Systems Engineering Project Coordinator and later on he was promoted to Technical Product Management Coordinator. Despite the importance of this position in the company, he worked part-time.
In 2008, Livingston had to make a choice: work full-time for BlackBerry or set up his own business. He chose the latter and as early as in 2009 he founded Kik Interactive.
Initially, Kik was meant to be a music app for the BlackBerry messenger and was planned to be called Kik Music. Livingston invested $45,000 in this. He got students and graduates of the University of Waterloo to work on the project. Among them was the future co-founder of the messenger Chris Best, who now holds the position of Kik’s CTO. Within the first year of existence, Kik Music raised $1 M of investments.
However, Livingston got it quickly that it was wrong to limit his company only by cooperating with BlackBerry. He saw the pace Apple was growing at and saw it clear that the future belongs to cross-platform applications. For this particular reason, in 2010 he launched a beta version of Kik Chat. In October 2010 it grew into a full-scale messaging app, as the whole world knows it today.
When hiring people Ted Livingston always offers them a part-time job first. This allows him to watch closely those he is going to work with. The majority of the company’s trainees are the University of Waterloo graduates as is Livingston himself.
During the first 15 days of operation, the app attracted over a million users. This was an overwhelming success. The startup got the attention of numerous investors. However, once the number of registered users got over 2 million, Kik was kicked in the back – BlackBerry excluded the chat app from its app store. This event took place in October 2010 and almost demolished all Kik’s previous achievements. BlackBerry was even going to sue Kik, accusing Livingston of stealing the idea of a chat app.
The situation was saved, though – Livingston stroke a deal with RRE Ventures. Ted had to give away part of his stock but it allowed him to get investors’ trust back.
In 2011, the company raised $19.5 M of investments; with this money, it released stickers and the first game within the app.
The major feature of Kik is that accounts are not connected to users’ phone numbers, nicknames are enough. Since back in 2010 not all young people had mobile phones yet, this idea was a success. As soon as almost everyone got hold of a mobile, Kik hurried to release Kik for iOS and Kik for Android. It is these two that are the company’s focus now.
Today Kik has over 200 M registered users. In the last round it raised over $70.5 M. The company aims to become an analogue of WeChat in the North America.