Kik adds executives: plans to double workforce

Waterloo-based Kik announced two all-star additions to its executive lineup today.

Kik-team

Jae Kim, former head of strategy and operations at the U.S. headquarters of Line, the Japanese messaging, will manage Kik’s growing U.S. operations and the roll-out of services on its popular mobile messaging platform. He will be based in Los Angeles.

Alim Dhanji, tasked with scaling Kik’s workforce and culture, will assume the role of Chief People Officer, based in Waterloo.

“What really drew me and the rest of the team to them was the fact that they were great culture fits – humble, hardworking and team players – which is extremely hard to find when hiring for senior roles,” Ted Livingston, Kik’s CEO, said in a news release.

Kik’s recent raise of $50 million from Tencent, the holding company of China’s WeChat, created a need for new high-level executive roles to advance the company, now valued at more than $1 billion, to the next stage.

Doubling Kik’s workforce from the current 110 in the next year will be quite the job, but Dhanji sounds ready to take it on.

“My experiences have really been about scaling an organization, both organically and through mergers and acquisitions, and working with leadership teams to build the right capabilities within the organizations,” Dhanji told Communitech News. He has held senior executive roles at Citigroup and KPMG, and most recently was a senior vice-president at TD Bank Group.

Scaling culture is a stumbling block for many high-growth companies as they transition from startup to full-fledged company.

“Our emphasis is on making sure we continue to foster collaboration and communication in all our offices,” Dhanji said.

Some tactics include HR programs that “help unify our culture” and the continuation of Friday standup meetings, which connect all Kik offices via video conferencing, but Dhanji said it ultimately comes back to recruitment.

“We’re a knowledge-worker organization; we don’t produce widgets that you can get on a shelf, and so for us it’s really about finding the best talent and finding talent that fits within our culture,” he said, adding that people are a competitive advantage.

And Waterloo Region is a great first stop for talent.

“Waterloo continues to be a really core area to attract the best talent,” he said. “We have just been enjoying exceptional talent from the university, but also Waterloo [Region in general], given that it is a hub for tech talent.”

Kik will be looking elsewhere as it rounds out its teams in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Although Dhanji has his work cut out for him, he’s looking forward to the new opportunity.

“It’s really a compelling product and it’s exciting the potential that Kik has to accomplish in the West what WeChat has accomplished in the East.”

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