The popular messaging app Kik is, in effect, “here to stay” following an acquisition by Los Angeles-based multimedia holding company, MediaLab.
It echoes the same message from Kik chief executive Tim Livingston last week when he refuted earlier reports that the company was shutting down amid an ongoing battle with the state Securities and Exchange Commission. -United. Livingston had tweeted that Kik had signed a letter of intent with a “big company”, but that it was “not a done deal”.
We now know the company: MediaLab. In an article on Kik’s blog On Friday, MediaLab said it had “finalized a deal” to acquire Kik Messenger.
“Kik is one of those amazing places that brings us back to those early aspirations,” the blog read. “Whether it’s a passion for an obscure manga or your favorite soccer team, Kik has shown an incredible ability to provide a platform for new friendships to be forged through your mobile phone.”
MediaLab is a holding company which has several other movable properties, including the anonymous social network Whisper and mixtape app DatPiff. By acquiring Kik, the holding company is expanding its portfolio of mobile applications.
MediaLab said it has “some ideas” for further development of Kik in the future, including making the app faster and reducing the amount of unwanted messages and spam bots. The company said it would introduce advertisements “over the next few weeks” to “cover our expenses” of operating the platform.
The purchase of the Kik messaging platform adds another social media weapon to the arsenal of MediaLab and its CEO, Michael Heyward.
Heyward was one of the first stars of Los Angeles’ burgeoning startup community with the launch of the anonymous Whisper messaging service nearly eight years ago. At the time, the company was part of a group of anonymous apps – including Secret and YikYak – that raised tens of millions of dollars to deliver online iterations of the Faith Diary, Burning Book, and Wall of the bathroom (respectively).
In 2017, TechCrunch reported that Whisper had suffered major layoffs to avoid collapse and put the company on the path to profitability.
At the time, Whisper had around 20 million monthly active users on its app and website, which the company was looking to monetize through programmatic advertising, rather than brand-sponsored campaigns that provided part of the revenue. of the company in the past. Thanks to widgets, the company had an additional 10 million viewers of its content per month using various widgets and a reach of around 250 million through Facebook and other social networks it posted to.
People familiar with the company said at the time that it had gross revenues of around $ 1 million and would reach $ 12.5 million in revenue for that calendar year. By 2018, this turnover is expected to exceed $ 30 million, according to sources at the time.
The flagship Whisper app allows people to post short pieces of anonymous text and images that others might like or comment on. Heyward wanted this to be a way for people to share more personal and intimate details – to be a social network for confessions and support rather than harassment.
The idea caught on with investors and Whisper was able to raise $ 61 million from investors including Sequoia, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Shasta Ventures. Whisper’s last round was a $ 36 million Series C in 2014.
Fast forward to 2018, when Secret was shut down for three years while YikYak also went bankrupt – selling its engineering team to Square for around $ 1 million. Whisper, meanwhile, apparently created MediaLab as a holding company for its app and additional assets that Heyward would seek to consolidate. The company filed registration documents in California in June 2018.
According to the documents, Susan Stone, partner of the investment firm Capital of Sierra Wasatch, is registered as a director of the company.
Heyward did not respond to a request for comment.
Zack Whittaker contributed reporting for this article.