Kik Interactive, a seven-year-old startup with a mobile messaging app that’s popular among teenagers, began working on a conversational platform for bots two years ago — long before the idea became the hot tech trend of 2016 and the latest leg of Facebook’s march to world domination.
There’s a crowd of bot-platform contenders right now, including giants like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google and upstarts like Slack, Telegram, and Twilio. But Facebook opened its Messenger to third-party bots in April, and given its reach (close to a billion users) and its resources, it’s the odds-on favorite. The bots will go where the users are, right?
But Kik has plenty of users, as well as a billion-dollar valuation, and it sees this story playing out differently. I’ve come to Waterloo to find out why a little Canadian company with 130 employees thinks it can compete in this game and win — and why it thinks so many of the bigger players have the whole bot thing wrong.