Today was a big one for cross-platform mobile messaging application Kik Messenger. Not only did they announce group messaging and picture messaging capabilities for their application, but they just closed a round of funding that netted the company $8 million in Series A funding.
The two announcements are intertwined; the $8 million in funding is going towards R&D expenses, including the launch of the aforementioned group messaging and picture sharing features. The $8 million includes funding from RRE Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures.
Speaking of RRE Ventures and Union Square Ventures, two executives from those firms have been added to Kik’s board of directors — Fred Wilson and Adam Ludwin, respectively. Wilson is a New York-based VC, and has been in the biz since 1986. He is the managing partner at both Union Square and Flatiron Ventures.
Ludwin is an associate at RRE Ventures. He has a background in business design, has started and successfully exited from two companies, a social shopping platform and a discussion system for securities trading desks. He is also on the board of directors at Scout Anaytics.
“Kik is a fast, simple, and elegant solution to cross device mobile messaging which we think is one of the most exciting investment opportunities right now,” said Wilson, in a press release. “We believe the Kik team has shown that they understand how to deliver the right set of features in the right package and we are excited about working with them to build the mobile messaging marketplace.”
Today’s release of a new version of Kik for iOS and Android that features group messaging and picture sharing is a big step forward — but it also might be stepping on the toes of RIM, whose BlackBerry Messenger advertises features like these as defining characteristics. Oh, and RIM is also embroiled in an ugly lawsuit with Kik. So I’m sure this will do nothing to cool the animosity between the two companies.
Kik’s group messaging allows up to ten users to be included, and allows users to enter and leave the conversation at will. As for their picture messaging features, Kik says that it allows users to “share what they’re seeing with the click of a button,” unlike other picture sharing apps which “are essentially a file transfer.”
“Kik is known for having the best one-to-one messaging experience and we are now extending that to groups,” said Ted Livingston, founder and chief executive officer of Kik Interactive, in a statement. “With other group messaging applications, a large group often becomes nothing more than a distribution list. Kik Messenger creates a dynamic interaction where people can easily enter and exit the conversation as needed, just like in real life.”
For more info on Kik, click here.