Kik, the Waterloo-based maker of the popular messaging app by the same name, has quietly raised nearly US$100 million with its recent token distribution event – one of the largest fundraising events in the history of the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem – paving the way for the continued rollout of its Kin ecosystem and what amounts to a significant transformation of the company.

“This is the start of an exciting journey,” Kik CEO Ted Livingston said Monday in a blog post.

More than 10,000 people from 117 countries participated in the token sale, making Kin “one of the most widely held cryptocurrencies in the world,” the company said.

Canadians, however, were not allowed to participate in the sale due to what Livingston last month blamed as “weak guidance” from the Ontario Securities Commission.

Kik generated US$50 million cash in a pre-sale, plus another US$49 million from the sale of $168,732 ETH (Ethereum) pegged at US$289. Ethereum is currently trading at $297.

To put the event in perspective, Kitchener’s Thalmic Labs last year announced a VC-led Series B round of US$120 million, the largest lift since Geosign of Guelph attracted $160 million in investment in 2007.

Kik announced its move into the digital currency sphere late last spring in what Livingston termed was “a fundamentally new business model,” designed to respond to the increasingly consolidated power of tech behemoths like Facebook and Google.

Its answer to that power, Livingston said, was “Kin,” a cryptocurrency payment system built on the Ethereum blockchain, one that would underpin new digital services offered within the Kik app.

“People who participated in the TDE will receive instructions to access a Kin wallet in Kik,” wrote Livingston in Medium.

“We are also doing a Gmail-style rollout of Kin inside of Kik, starting with 1,000 of our most active users. We will take a measured approach to our rollout, gradually increasing both functionality and the number of users who can access Kin as we solve the scalability and usability challenges that come with the blockchain.”

Livingston’s intention with Kin, he told Communitech News last June, is for it to become a payment system that could be spent and earned within the Kik ecosystem for various goods and services.

About The Author

Craig Daniels
Senior Journalist

Craig Daniels is a veteran reporter, columnist and editor who has joined Communitech’s editorial team as senior journalist. He worked most recently at Postmedia in Hamilton, where he led the team that produced the National Post, and before that at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun, Financial Post, the Montreal Daily News and the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, N.B. He has an abiding interest in the transformational power and promise of tech and startup ecosystems, is a commercially licensed pilot, and has a debilitating wrist-watch fetish.