Chinese internet giant Tencent has taken a $50m (£32m) stake in Canadian mobile messenger Kik Interactive.
Ontario-based company Kik competes with other messaging services like Whatsapp, Snapchat or the Facebook Messenger app.
Tencent is a Chinese firm with a focus on internet products including online sales, social networks and China’s most popular messenger service WeChat.
Kik is hoping the investment will help boost competitiveness and emulate WeChat’s success in North America.
The Canadian start-up is particularly popular with teenage users and has been looking for a strategic partner for some time.
The company says 70% of its 240 million users are between 13 and 24 years old, and that 40% of US teenagers use Kik on their smartphones.
“Young Americans are a large group with unmet needs. We can’t think of a better group to be building for,” said Ted Livingston, founder and chief executive of Kik.
Livingston explained Tencent was the best partner because its messenger service WeChat allows users not merely to connect with friends but also integrates options like shopping, ordering taxis and playing games.
“It was clear they understood chat deeply, making them a great sounding board,” Livingston said in a blog post.
Tencent’s investment values the Canadian start-up at over $1bn.