Forecasting Kin's Initial Ecosystem Partners

Dillon King
Feb 7, 2018 · 6 min read

The purpose of this page is for NON-Kik affiliated persons to provide their views. We also want to make it clear that they are speaking for themselves, and do not represent the views of Kik or the Kin Foundation.

Within the next month and a half, Kik will be announcing a slate of digital service providers participating in the pre-production stage of the Kin Ecosystem. These three to five partners will drive the Kin Ecosystem forward by accepting Kin as a form of payment and offering opportunities to earn Kin within their digital services before the launch of the Kin Rewards Engine in the third quarter of the year. The results of these first few custom integrations will be used to prepare detailed case studies for use in marketing the Kin Ecosystem to future digital services.

The intent of this post is to explore who these soon-to-be-announced apps and services might turn out to be. These projections are entirely speculative, based on market analysis and existing business relationships. I’m ending my disclaimers there.

But before I get to my list, I’d like to profile one man who I think might be pulling the strings behind many of these potential partnerships.

Who is Fred Wilson?

Fred Wilson is a New York City venture capitalist and active blogger well-known for his phenomenal track record over the past decade. The firm he co-founded, Union Square Ventures, made major early funding round investments in some of the most successful tech companies of the last decade, including Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, Indeed, Etsy, Meetup, Stripe, and Kickstarter. Starting in 2011, USV invested in Kik’s Series A, B, and C funding rounds, earning Fred a spot on the Kik Board of Directors. Recently, Fred has found a huge interest in cryptocurrency investing, leading the seed round for the blockchain hedge fund Polychain Capital, which recently participated in the Kin TDE pre-sale.

In watching interviews with both Fred and Kik’s CEO, Ted Livingston, it is clear to me that Fred’s advice played a formative role in the creation of the Kin project vision, and I have no doubt that as a member of the Kik Board, Fred’s business connections in the digital service sector will play a role in Kin’s selection of early partners.


So, what other hints do we have to work with when trying to make educated guesses? What we know:

  • Alex, VP of Product, was very clear in his AMA- these services are definitely not small or medium sized. They must have a large enough user base to drive widespread adoption of Kin and generate interest from smaller services in the future.
  • Kin is being sold to partners as a new way to monetize their digital services. I would imagine we’d see the most interest from companies that have struggled to monetize by selling ads or data.
  • We’ve heard that these initial services each incorporate a sense of ‘community’. Ideally, the best home for Kin will share the ethos of people coming together to create value for one another.
  • Kin wants to use these partnerships to create case studies for a variety of potential use cases. We can expect a mix of service categories, in order to build out a diverse portfolio.

Without further ado, let’s dive in:

Block Party

  • Block Party is a social media agency that creates marketing opportunities on all major chat applications. Clients include Katy Perry, Fall Out Boy, iHeartRadio, and Reebok.
  • CEO Eytan Oren has a history of working with Kik. At IPG Media Lab in 2014, he created a marketing deal between Sony Music and Kik to promote the band One Direction. The award-winning campaign was one of the biggest stories in the advertising world that year. He also speaks Hebrew (The Kin team is based in Tel Aviv, Israel).
  • Case Study: Social media marketing, VIP groups (as mentioned in whitepaper)

Duolingo

  • Might offer some creative Kin earn and spend opportunities, such as unlocking premium lessons, skipping levels, private tutoring, creating exercises, or adding translations.
  • Union Square investment: Series A, B, C, and D
  • Case Study: Educational services
  • Size: The top language-learning app, reaching 20 million monthly active users.

Koko

  • Has a long history with Kik app integration, including the development of a previous case study for chat bots and advice networks.
  • Quite literally defined by its creation of a warm and welcoming community providing value to each other through helpful words.
  • Case Study: Chat bots, advice networks (as mentioned in whitepaper)

SoundCloud

  • Recent failures to monetize have led to emergency funding rounds and executive shake-ups.
  • The ‘SoundCloud rap’ genre of music is evidence to both the pervasiveness of the app in music culture, as well as the strength of its community.
  • Millennial demographic.
  • Union Square investment: Series B (lead) and Series D
  • Case Study: Music streaming, digital media sales, creative content
  • Size: One of the top free apps on the app stores, reaching 175 million monthly active users.

StreamElements

  • Video game live stream monetization platform based out of Tel Aviv, Israel. CEO & Co-founder Doron Nir is a well-known entrepreneur who was born and raised there.
  • Twitch streamers have some of the most loyal communities of followers in entertainment.
  • Kik recently made a blog post about what Kin might look like as a video game currency. While not exactly the same, this would satisfy a very closely linked market, which in combination with integration into games could create a very interesting dynamic of earning and spending between the streamer, viewer, and their games.
  • Case Study: Live streaming, content tipping
  • Size: Used by a large share of top Twitch streamers, reaching millions of monthly active users.

Tumblr

  • Recent failures to monetize led to a massive write-down in the company’s valuation by Yahoo before being sold to Oath.
  • Ted has spoken often about the problems with advertising faced by social media companies outside of the monopolies at the top. Tumblr is a prime example of not having the necessary scale to succeed with advertising, despite their number of users.
  • Perhaps the most tight-knit sharing community of content creators on the internet.
  • Millennial demographic. I hear they love the word ‘kin’ over there.
  • Union Square investment: Series A (lead), B (lead), C (lead), D, and E
  • Case Study: Social media, social networks, tipping
  • Size: A top 10 social network, reaching 800 million monthly active users.

What do you think? Did you have other companies in mind? Leave a comment and make the case!

Kin Blog

 by the author.

Dillon King

Written by

Sprinkler engineer by day, Kin Ambassador by night.

Kin Blog

Kin Blog

Kin is a cryptocurrency used for value exchange in a decentralized ecosystem of digital applications. Kin’s goal is to enable apps and their users to thrive.

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