Waterloo, Ontario chat platform Kik Interactive Inc. has hired Dave Simons as the company’s new senior vice president of engineering, to help expand and lead Kik’s engineering and product teams.
Simons spent seven years as chief technology officer at Toronto-based loyalty program technology company Points International, helping the company develop infrastructure and drive e-commerce and technology solutions for its customers, which include Chase, Marriott, and United Airlines.
“Dave is one of the best engineering leaders in Canada with an impressive track record of success,” said Ted Livingston, founder and CEO of Kik. “He is exactly the kind of person we want in place to build a world class engineering organization and to explore new areas in the messaging and chatbot spaces.”
For Simons, the job at Kik represents a return to Waterloo, since he’s an alumnus of the University of Waterloo, where he picked up an honour’s degree in computer science and math in 1990.
Previous to Points International, Simons co-founded the Silicon Valley-based in-game advertising company NeoEdge Networks in 2002, as well has having held positions at AOL Time Warner and Citibank, where he built and scaled large consumer-facing deployments, advertising infrastructure, and peer-to-peer networks.
“Three-hundred million registered users create fascinating scale-related engineering and operational challenges” said Simons. “I’ve been extremely impressed with what this 150-person team has accomplished, and any engineer coming to Kik will have a material impact on the company becoming one of the dominant chat platforms in North America.”
Kik Interactive was founded in 2009 by University of Waterloo graduate and ex-BlackBerry employee Ted Livingstone, who has built the company to a valuation of over $1 billion, with more than 300 million registered users on the platform chatting with friends and connecting with “chat-based experiences”, many of which are driven by bots.
Kik was the result of Livingston’s attempt to convince Research in Motion to take BlackBerry Messenger cross-platform, a move that the company declined, which prompted Livingstone to set out on his own, a decision that BlackBerry now likely regrets.
Approximately 40% of Kik’s registered users are U.S. teens.
In April, Kik launched its Bot Shop, in collaboration with three launch partners: imperson, Massively, and Sequel, while also opening the company’s platform to third-party developers, so that anyone can now develop a bot operating on the Kik platform, a move that is in keeping with trends by companies employing bots to engage users and allowing third-party companies and developers to automate interaction.
The Bot Shop is split into three categories: entertainment, lifestyle, and games, and launched with 16 bots representing major media companies and retailers, including Funny Or Die, H&M, J-14, Riffsy, Sephora, Vine, and The Weather Channel.
Kik is headquartered in Waterloo, and now has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto.
Last year, Kik acquired Blynk, a Toronto-based mobile fashion app developer responsible for their personal fashion stylist called BlynkStyle, which became a chat bot on the Kik messaging app.
In 2015, Kik closed a $50 million Series D funding round, led by Tencent, developers of the Weixin (WeChat) Chinese messaging app.