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Livingston, who founded Waterloo-based messaging startup Kik inhas been open about his plans for the company, which he hopes to turn into a messaging platformnot just a communication app. Essentially, that means he wants to build other services like games, shopping and even banking into an app people use to message their friends. In fact, he wrote an entire Medium post about it last November. Still, Kik has some momentum.
Ted Livingston: The way we think about Kik is: There are three key pieces. There are all the services on the other side, like banking, shopping and games. The unique thing about the messenger race is that everybody is learning from each other.
That is the reality whether you want to admit it or not. Kik is very dominant in North America but almost nowhere in China. Why does the WeChat model of building services into one app work so well in China, but not as well in North America? I think messaging in general has been much slower to take off in the West. The biggest reason for that is we already had SMS [text messaging] for dominant kik. The idea of a messaging platform has been much slower as well. All these consumers in China are coming online for the first time through their phones. The first app they pick is chat, and they pick their banking, shopping and gaming from there.
Compare that to the West, where people already know where they want to bank and shop and do all these things. Youth are the only demographic in the West who are coming online for the first time through their phones just like everybody is in China.
It seems like other companies like Facebook and Snapchat are trying to do something similar — build extra services into an app primarily used for messaging. Is this idea catching on in the industry? Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower through understanding.
Kik To build his messaging company KikCEO Ted Livingston is openly turning to a common — although often taboo — source of inspiration: His competition. Below is an edited transcript of our chat. This article originally appeared on Recode.
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