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Kik CEO Ted Livingston to discuss the future of mobile messaging at Disrupt NY 2016

TechCrunch TechCrunch 1/04/2016 Jon Russell

Messaging is the hot topic of 2016, which is why we’re tremendously excited to announce that Ted Livingston, the co-founder and CEO of popular chat app Kik, is confirmed as a speaker at our upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York from May 9-11.

We’ve already revealed a number of prestigious participants for Disrupt — including Union Square Ventures founder and partner Fred Wilson, YouTube star Casey Neistat, and Amazon Echo VP Mike George — and, in Livingston, we are adding a true mobile messaging visionary. He’s publicity shy and isn’t often found at mainstream tech events, but he’s agreed to a fireside chat with us focused on explaining why mobile messaging is so important right now, and where it is headed.

Sneaky spoiler alert, Livingston believes we are entering a new paradigm for mobile internet.

“One thing I think we can all agree on is that chat is going to be the world’s next great operating system,” he wrote recently. “Chat apps will come to be thought of as the new browsers; bots will be the new websites. This is the beginning of a new internet.”

Kik, like WhatsApp, was one of the earliest mobile messaging apps and it leads the way in the genre. The company was one of the first to introduce bots — back in 2014, while Microsoft and others are just following now — while it is focused on adding new services, like food/drink ordering and payments, and the business of actually making money via messaging, too, working with selected brands that appeal to its users.

The company has largely dodged the attention radar for some time, no doubt thanks to the fact that it is based up in Waterloo, Canada, but an investment from Chinese internet giant Tencent — the creator of WeChat, the blockbuster messaging app that is inspiring Facebook and others — pushed Kik’s valuation past the $1 billion mark and put it firmly in the spotlight.

Unicorn valuation aside, Kik is one of those apps that may not be well known to all internet users, but it has steadily built up a phenomenal base of young users in the West. Today, the chat app counts more than 275 million registered users, 70 percent of whom it estimates are aged between 13 and 24 years old. Indeed, Kik claims that around 40 percent of all teens in the U.S. use its service. That makes it a major rival to Snapchat, Facebook and others, and most definitely one to watch for the future.

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