Blogs & Comment

Winners & Losers: Kik friends Tencent, HP hard-reboots

“Hold on, I've got to take this call, I've been playing telephone tag with this Big Mac all week”

 Kik Interactive

Alive and Kik-in’

Kik messenger on a smartphone

The Waterloo-based messaging service scored a $50-million investment from China’s Tencent Holdings, achieving a $1-billion valuation. In the process, Kik has become a unicorn, the term applied to billion-dollar startups that serve as inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, and as a reminder that we’re probably in a tech bubble with too much money chasing too few assets. Kik’s core service is messaging, but it aims to be much more. Founder Ted Livingston penned an essay last year outlining his plan to become the WeChat of the West—a reference to the wildly popular app in China developed by, coincidentally, Tencent. The investment helps Kik get closer to that goal, allowing it to draw on Tencent’s resources and expertise. Kik has 240 million registered users, many of them teens in the U.S., and it’s proven to be on top of trends. Last year, for example, it purchased a GIF messaging company. As for making money, Kik might be able to develop its promoted chat feature, which allows users to talk with brands like Burger King (or a chatbot adopting the voice of Burger King’s “offensively spicy” chicken fries, more accurately), hurtling us toward a glorious future wherein #brands have finally usurped human relationships and we mindlessly trade animated GIFs with an Arby’s roast beef sandwich.


Not OK Computer


Revenue dropped 8% at the world’s second largest PC-maker, marking four straight quarters of declines. In fact, revenue has fallen in 15 out of the last 16 quarters. The culprit, unsurprisingly, is weak PC sales. HP has struggled to adapt to mobile and cloud computing, and as those trends take hold, businesses and consumers have less use the PCs that HP is selling. Sales in that division dropped 13% year-over-year, while its printing sales fared a little better, posting only a 9% drop. HP isn’t standing idly by, however. The company’s plan to deal with the problem its to sever its waning hardware unit from its more profitable enterprise services business like a gangrenous limb. Starting November 1, current CEO Meg Whitman will take over the enterprise business, while Dion Weisler drew the short straw and will shepherd the PC and printing unit into irrelevance. Whitman’s division will also get a new logo. Whitman has described it as a “powerful representation of who we are” and elaborated in a blog post that it “stands out among our competitors.” The logo is a green rectangle.