China startup Kika scores $30.6 million for emoji keyboard


Chinese-American startup Kika Tech, the creators of an emoji-based keyboard app for iOS and Android, grabbed a massive $30.6 million Friday in a round co-led by Chinese investor and Zeus Interactive CEO Zhu Ye. Other leading investors included Bole Zongheng and Honge Capital, also based in China.

So, no Kanye, your idea for an emoji autocorrect is far behind the ball. Kika has propelled its keyboard app to #1 in the Google Play store. The company already claims to lead market share in the United States, Europe, Mexico and Brazil with over 130 million downloads worldwide and 20 million users daily.

The app is extremely durable and includes Rumantsch and is the first mobile keyboard to support Bashkir among its 70 some languages. The app also touts knowledge of trending hashtags and GIFs which would make the keyboard a tremendous asset on Twitter and Imgur to increase your shares or your fake internet points. And not to worry, the app can be used in WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat, Slack and Line as well.

“Kika has always been about helping people communicate their ideas and feelings in a way that best represents them,” said Kika CEO, Bill Hu. “We are in the era of mobile Internet, and smart devices have become the platforms of modern day communication. The keyboard is the natural entrance into those platforms.”

The app is planning on introducing emoji recommendations based on what you have been typing and what the app anticipates you will type next, so its autocorrect abilities are fine-tuned. Aside from that, Kika plans on introducing GIF suggestions for conversation as well.

“The most impressive thing about Kika is the detail and passion the engineers and the entire Kika team have for users and making the perfect experience for users. I have invested in a number of Chinese companies, but rarely do you find a group of talented Chinese entrepreneurs with the skillset, success, and focus on growing a business in the Americas,” said Zhu Ye, a B-round investor.

Kika was founded by Bill Hu in 2014. The company employs more than 50 people and maintains its headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.


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