Kik's Back, Bitches

Graphic: Kik/Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

It looks like Kik hasn’t quite kicked the bucket yet (heh). MediaLab just acquired the popular anonymous chat app and plans to invest in its future, according to a company blog post Saturday boasting how “Kik is here to stay!” The app had one foot in the grave ever since its creator and previous owner, Kik Interactive, announced last month it was pulling its plug and pivoting their focus to cryptocurrency.

Kik Interactive’s CEO Ted Livingston hinted at this acquisition earlier this month in a tweet saying a “great company” had agreed to buy their app to “continue growing it for our millions of users.”

Turns out that MediaLab, a Los Angeles-based multimedia holding company and owner of another anonymous secret-sharing app, Whisper, which suggests we might see some kind of merger or way to link accounts between the two apps somewhere down the line.

Though Whisper has never quite reached the same cultural clout or audience size as Kik — which boasted hundreds of millions of registered users at its peak — it’s successfully managed to stay afloat these last few years as similar anonymous messengers like Yik Yak and Secret shut down left and right. As of 2017, Techcrunch reported Whisper had 20 million daily active users across its app and website.

While MediaLab eventually plans to tackle some long-requested features like increased group sizes and the option to kick inactive group admins, first the company plans on “getting back to the basics.” Fixing bugs, blocking spam bots, and improving the app’s speed and reliability will be top priorities these next few months and some features like video chat toggle and third-party bots are going back to the drawing board altogether. MediaLab’s also introducing in-app ads to help cover costs, which should roll out over the next few weeks.

“We believe that Kik’s best days remain ahead of it,” the MediaLab team said in its statement.

In his previous announcement about Kik’s shutdown, Livingston said the company’s staff would be shrinking down to 19, a move that would purportedly affect more than 100 employees and their families. Saturday’s blog post didn’t provide any updates whether these plans would continue, and Kik Interactive did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s inquiry.

The company said in September that it intended to redirect resources towards its cryptocurrency, Kin, following a lengthy legal battle with the U.S. Security Exchange Commission that Livingston described at the time as “a long and expensive process to drain our resources.” The SEC sued Kik Interactive back in June over $146 million the company raised via an initial coin offering in 2017, which the SEC argued qualified as an illegal, unregistered securities offering.

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