Ted Livingston
Jan 27, 2015 · 3 min read

Kik passed 200 million registered users today. That’s good news. Two hundred million people have downloaded the app and created a Kik username. If each one of those users took five seconds to say, “Hi,” it’d take 31 years to get through them all. That’s a lot of people!

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter all that much. The number of users is an interesting stat, but, to be honest, we’d expect the number to be pretty high. Kik is in the top 20 for free apps in the U.S. in both iTunes and Google Play, so it’s no surprise that a lot of curious people will check out the app, play with it for a bit, and then leave.

Other companies make a big deal about MAU, but we think they might as well be called “minimally active users.”

You might then ask why we don’t talk more about monthly active users (MAU). Other companies make a big deal about MAU, but we think they might as well be called “minimally active users.” It’s a metric so easy to game that it becomes almost meaningless. For example, push notifications are so powerful for mobile that you can drastically increase MAUs just by blasting out a “Happy holidays!” and counting everyone who opened the app in response as “active.” That’s not for us.

In general, startups, the media, and investors care way too much about these numbers. You can count us in the same camp as Ev Williams. Kik is far more interested in building a product that people love and want to spend time with. We want to foster loyalty and keep our users coming back. We want them to be excited to open Kik.

We recently commissioned a study that showed Kik users spend 35 minutes per session in our app. That compares to 37 minutes for Facebook, 27 minutes for Instagram, and 21 minutes for Snapchat. According to BI Intelligence, Kik users spend 97 minutes a week in the app, ahead of Snapchat (42 minutes), Viber (40 minutes), and Facebook Messenger (21 minutes). Those are the sorts of numbers that get us excited.

For a chat app that depends on frequent, meaningful conversation among peers, engagement is the golden goose. An obsession with minimally active users would contradict the very thing we set out to achieve. It might be a metric that attracts attention and money, but it incentivizes the exact sort of behavior we want to avoid.

So while we’re excited about today’s milestone and Kik’s continued growth, we’re not going to take long to celebrate. We’re keeping our heads down and working hard to figure out how to keep our users happy and coming back for more. Two hundred million is a great number, but 35 minutes is where the real action is. The next task is to get that up to 38.

Ted Livingston

Written by

Founder and CEO of Kik and Kin

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