What Fred Said: Expect This From Messaging Apps in the Future


Fred Wilson, the founder of New York-based venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, and Ted Livingston, the founder and CEO of messaging app Kik, sat down for an interview with Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. In their discussion, they talked about investments and sectors from the perspective of the venture capitalist and from the perspective of the founder of the company being invested in.

  1. These Are the Sectors You’re Looking For

One of the sectors Wilson is especially interested in is healthcare, particularly because of the increased prevalence of using wearable devices and smartphones to gather more personal health information.

Wilson described investing in next-gen Internet access technology a “contrarian bet.” He said high-bandwidth Internet access on mobile phones is still too expensive, too limited in choice and options and needs more progress.

Union Square Ventures (USV) hasn’t invested in virtual reality yet, but Wilson does find the sector interesting.

  1. Evolution of Messaging Apps

Livingston “always thought chat was the killer app for mobile,” but now the question is what to build on top of chat and the social space it creates. He used the example of what WeChat is doing in China as what to expect in the future. WeChat is allowing businesses, games, etc., to open official accounts on the app, and now there is more official accounts created in a day than websites. Livingston predicts that’s where the industry is heading.

  1. It’s the Relationship That Counts

Union Square Ventures commonly invests in companies whose product is network-based, and Wilson said investing in mobile messaging was a “textbook” network-based opportunity. Now that 5 or 10 big chat platforms have been established in mobile messaging, investors have to envision what kind of businesses can you build on those platforms.

When asked about what its like to work with USV and venture capitalist firms in general, he said most VCs don’t get it. Livingston was grateful that even though the USV team might have had some doubts about their investment when Kik went through a rough patch, they still supported them

Livingston thinks the key thing to their successful relationship is that unlike most venture capitalists, “USV guys get it and care.”

About the author: Christopher Lopaze

Christopher Lopaze graduated from the University of Washington. He is now an aspiring writer and journalist. To him, no task is more challenging than writing well and no task is as rewarding as finding the right words to express a thought with clarity and economy. He interns at AlleyWatch.

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