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Kik Interactive, a Canadian startup and developer of the messaging app Kik reached a $1 billion valuation after receiving a $50 million strategic investment from Tencent Holdings (HKG:0700).

According to Kik Interactive, it would use the funding from Tencent Holdings to double its size as it continues to build experience and services for youth in the United States.

Kik Interactive founder and CEO Ted Livingston said, “Young Americans are a large group with unmet needs. We can’t think of a better group to be building for.”

Kik aims to become the “WeChat of the West”

Mr. Livingston wants to build the Kik messaging app as the “WeChat of the West.” He emphasized that Weixin has the power to facilitate connections and allows an ecosystem built around messaging.

Chinese consumers use Weixin to connect with friend and to perform other tasks including booking taxis, shopping, ordering foods, paying utility bills, playing games, and following celebrities and opinion leaders.

Kik Interactive aims to build itself into a chat-based ecosystem around its stronghold of American youth. Kik has 240 million users, and 70% of those are 13 to 24 years old. Approximately 40% of teenagers in the United States use Kik.

Kik Interactive said it can pursue its objective further with the investment and support of Tencent Holdings, which runs the WeChat messaging app.

Chat will become the primary interface for the consumer internet

Mr. Livingston believes that chat will become the primary interface for the consumer internet based on his perception that personal computing is at the beginning of a new era.

“We think chat will be the simplest way to connect with the world around you. Consumers and developers alike are suffering from app overload, and we are increasingly seeing the potential for services to be delivered in better, lighter-weight ways through chat, especially with bots. Companies like Slack, Telegram, and Facebook are also starting to realize this,” said Mr. Livingston.

He noted that more than 16 million users opted to chat with bots in Kik and exchanged half a billion messages last year.