Photo via Kik
Photo via Kik

Kik, a chat app that claims 40 percent of U.S. teenagers as users, has received a $50 million investment from Chinese tech company Tencent, setting the value of the start-up at $1 billion.

Canada-based Kik plans to use the money to double its workforce to 200 employees over the next year, including substantial hiring in Los Angeles, as it seeks to emulate Tencent’s success in China connecting consumers and companies through chat, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Using Tencent’s WeChat app, people in China can book taxis, order food, pay bills, contact customer service representatives at other companies and play games. Kik wants to enable its users to do much the same.

Kik Chief Executive Ted Livingston offered the example of getting a coupon by scanning a code at a store and filling out a survey without ever leaving the app.

“There’s nothing new to download, nothing new to learn,” he wrote in a blog post quoted by The Times. “Just scan, then chat.”

Josh Jacobs, president of services, is tasked with bringing features like that to life. Jacobs, based in Kik’s Silver Lake office, has hired four people in Los Angeles since arriving this spring. They’ve been meeting with movie studios, record labels and more, according to The Times.

—City News Service

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