The global explosion in smartphone use has been matched by a boom in the popularity of instant messaging apps, particularly among young people.
Kik Messenger is one such app, launched in October 2010 by Kik Interactive, a company formed by students from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and headed by former BlackBerry employee Ted Livingston.
The app has a built-in web browser and numerous native apps, enabling users to play mobile games, make memes, watch videos and listen to music.
Headquartered in Waterloo, Kik has raised $121m (£83.7m) in five funding rounds, with a valuation of $1bn (£690m). The app has more than 275 million users worldwide – including over 40% of US teens – and its marketing tools enable brands to share content with users, as well as tracking the results.
In April 2016, Kik launched a Bot Shop, enabling brands to create simple robots to interact with users.