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Who is Kin’s secret board member?

Here’s 12 people we’d like it to be – even though it’s likely not!

Want to discuss this post? Check out the discussion on the NuFi forums!



One thing that we try to avoid at NuFi is wild and unfounded speculation.

Instead, our wild speculation is mildly founded with rough interweb sleuthing.

While most of the community has been on a fervorous hunt for bread-crumbs that they believe are evidence that Evan Spiegel (CEO of Snapchat) is the new board member, we here at NuFi decided to do some digging and come up with some other potential (long-shots) of who we’d really like it to be.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Ted mentioned that they’ve begun working with a new board member.
  2. Ted mentioned that the board member is an “independent.” (Not an employee of Kik.)
  3. Ted (et al.) have used gender neutral language when referring to this individual.
  4. The developer contest was decided upon with the help of an un-announced Kin executive. We believe it’s likely this is the same person.
  5. If Kin is hiding their identity it’s likely they are influential.
  6. If they are also working as an executive and a board member, it’s most likely someone who isn’t working at another company currently.


Here are some ideal candidates we picked out that we like, but, it’s probably not them:

#1 – Jan Koum

Who: Jan Koum is one of the co-founders of the popular chat app “WhatsApp” which sold to Facebook for $19B.

Why it might be them:
Jan is notably anti-Facebook and has apparently left Facebook in a “rest and vest” style. Leaving him open to other projects.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Jan knows how to grow a kick-ass chat app.

Why it probably isn’t them:
He’s got a fair bit of money, and is likely still on non-competes from Facebook. It’s unclear what value Kin would offer him, and if he wants to deal with the chat space again.

#2 – Eric Ries

Who:
Eric Ries is the founder of IMVU, The Long-Term Stock Exchange and the author of “The Lean Startup.”

Why it might be them:
IMVU is a Kin partner putting it on Eric’s radar and with projects like the LTSE, Eric has shown his commitment to disrupting economic oligarchies.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Eric is a master of the concepts of lean and MVP. Having been a student in Steve Blanks’ entrepreneurship class he knows how to lead tight and effective product teams.

Why it probably isn’t them:
He’s already got two projects under his belt including the LTSE which he seems to be focused on full time.

#3 – Marissa Mayer

Who:
Marissa Mayer is the former CEO of Yahoo, and former COO of Google.

Why it might be them:
Marissa Mayer left Yahoo during its sale last year to star a project called “Lumi Labs” focused on consumer facing products and working with startups. Lumi is Finnish for snow. In 2015, Ted Livingston registered a trademark for Snowball Labs, based out of the Kik building. The trademark was later abandoned in 2017. Coincidence? Yes, entirely!

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Marissa Mayer is a master of running a tight ship. Her operational knack helped Google grow to be the empire it is today, and helped turn around Yahoo. She has an eye for excellence and takes no prisoners on the journey there.

Why it probably isn’t them:
In her time at Yahoo, her salary was roughly $900,000/week, and her exit package from the Yahoo sale was another $260 million. Marissa can work on any project that takes her fancy, and to her a project like Kik is probably fairly small potatoes.

#4 – Gagan Biyani
Who:
Gagan Biyani is the founder of Sprig, Co-Founder of Udemy, Former Head of Marketing for Lyft, and founder of the Growth Hackers Conference.

Why it might be them:
Gagan currently isn’t leading any projects, and seems to be focused on investing. He’s linked indirectly to Ted/Kik via a mutual investor (Justin Waldron of Zynga fame).

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Gagan would bring with him great connections to multiple startups, as well as some strong marketing and growth prowess which would help Kin grow to the next level.

Why it probably isn’t them:
When Gagan shut down Sprig in July of 2017, he updated his LinkedIn profile to note that he is taking time off to travel and learn. It’s unclear if he is ready to dive back into the professional world yet.

#5 – Alexis Ohanian
Who:
Alexis Ohanian is the founder of Reddit and author of “Without Their Permission.”

Why it might be them:
Alexis was pro-cryptocurrency early on, and even explored a Reddit based cryptocurrency called “RedditNotes.” Recently, Reddit noted they are retiring the Gold program and replacing it with Reddit Coins.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Reddit….

Why it probably isn’t them:
Reddit…. – it’s a bit of a handful to run. He likely doesn’t have the time to think about other projects.

#6 – Ev Williams:
Who:
Co-Founder of Twitter and Founder of Medium.

Why it might be them:
No longer active at Medium and exploring other projects.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Ev brings strong experience in managing peer-to-peer social communities.

Why it probably isn’t them:
Ev as a knack for starting his own thing. He may not be interested in joining other people’s existing projects.

#7 – Naval Ravikant:
Who:
Co-Founder of AngelList, Co-Founder of CoinList, Prolific investor.

Why it might be them:
He seems to have taken a step back from the day-to-day at AngelList and CoinList, and is probably the only person in the world that might be as deeply involved in crypto as Fred Wilson.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
He knows (and has invested in) most major startups in the last decade, Naval is the best way to open any door in the valley.

Why it probably isn’t them:
We believe the new board member is also a full-time exec at Kik. That doesn’t seem likely to be Naval as he tends to move quick and be involved in lots of projects at the same time.

#8 – Matt Mullenweg:
Who:
Founder of Automattic (WordPress)

Why it might be them:
Matt’s long been interested in cryptocurrency and added crypto address listings to Gravatar early on. They’ve also been extensively interested in new ways to monetize hosted WordPress.com blogs as the team has had trouble launching a successful WordAds network.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
WordPress powers more than 30% of the internet, and is at the core of great content creation.

Why it probably isn’t them:
WordPress powers more than 30% of the internet, and it’s just one of the many products at Automattic, it’s a handful and it’s not clear that it’s something Matt is ready to step away from.

#9 – Thomas Hartwig:
Who:
Founder of King.com

Why it might be them:
King.com is the undisputed leader in cross-platform games. But, the game monetization industry is getting hard and harder due to the walled-gardens of Apple, Facebook and Google. Kin is the perfect fit in solving this.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Thomas Hartwig is lord of cross-platform games, with hundreds of millions of users world-wide using King.com built games, there may not be a greater adoption play.

Why it probably isn’t them:
Even though game monetization is a tough business, King.com is historically quite good at it and may not be yet feeling the pressure to change their tactics.

#10 – Marco Arment:
Who:
Co-Founder of Tumblr, Instapaper and Overcast. Influential app developer and podcaster.

Why it might be them:
Marco hasn’t been active in a major project recently, but, he has a deep interest in content creation, mobile applications, monetization and content discovery. A number of his posts on marco.org seem to echo sentiments of Kin’s philosophy.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Marco is influential in the developer space and could really help drive adoption among app developers. But, perhaps more importantly, Marco has deep relationships with a number of major content discovery platforms and understands the nuances of the publishing space.


Why it probably isn’t them:
Marco is quite self-sufficient living off of marco.org and his Overcast app. It seems he has really found his passion and is living the good live. Pretty hard to give that up.

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#11 – Brian Wong:
Who:
Brian Wong is the Founder of Kiip, a rewards platform that works with major brands.

Why it might be them:
Canadian entrepreneur in the rewards space.

Why it would be great if it IS them:
Brian Wong is not only an incredible entrepreneur who knows how to move quickly, but, he also has deep connections to top marketing executives at major brands and millions of users to bring to the table. The fit would be mutually beneficial both for Kin and Kiip.

Why it probably isn’t them:
Unlike a number of other companies, Kiip isn’t hurting. In fact it’s thriving. It doesn’t really have any need to do anything different. While it may make a calculated risk to grow to the next level, it’s a bit of a harder sell.

#12 – Led Rivingston:

Who:
Led Rivingston is the secret clone of Kik CEO Ted Livingston.

Why it might be them:
2% secret sauce much?

Why it would be great if it IS them:
A powerful army of Ted Livingstons can descend on the blockchain world, being in all places at once and securing every partnership.

Why it probably isn’t them:
I can’t think of any good reason!


Who do we actually think it is?

While we don’t think it will be an entrepreneur who is quite at this level we think it’s important for us to not get too stuck on any single individual.

The goal of this article was to show there are hundreds, if not thousands, of great candidates who even if they aren’t the most well known mega-successful entrepreneurs, they still have unique skill sets to bring to the table that can help take Kin to the next level.

Who didn’t make it on to this list but was on our radar?

Tobias Lute (Shopify)

Tom Anderson (Myspace)

Jeff Atwood (Stackoverflow, Discourse)

Rich Barton (Expedia, Zillow, Glassdoor – now Benchmark Ventures, on the board of Netflix)

Matt Barrie (Freelancer.com)

Nathan Blecharczyk (AirBnB)

Sergey Brin

David Byttow (Secret)

Garrett Camp (StumbleUpon, Uber – Canadian)

Charlie Cheever (Quora)

Dennis Crowley (Foursquare and Dodgeball)

Roger Dicky (Gigster and key engineer at Zynga)

Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter, Speaker at Consensus in 2018)

Scott Farquhar (Atlasssian)

David Filo (Yahoo)

Janus Friis (Skype, KaZaA, Radio)

Logan Green (Lyft)

Garrett Gruener (Ask.com)

Reed Hastings (Netflix)

Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn)

Ryan Holmes (Hootsuite)

Dave Hyatt (Safari, WebKit, Firefox)

Brendan Eich (Firefox, Javascript, Brave BAT)

Michael Jones (Myspace, Science Inc, Science blockchain)

Justin Kan (Justin.tv Twitch.tv, Y Combinator)

Max Levchin (Paypal – awards a prize in cryptography)

Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook, Asana)

Aswhin Navin (BitTorrent)

Pierre Omidyar (Ebay and First Look Media)

Sean Parker (Napster, Facebook, Spotify)

James Altucher (Reset Inc, Hedgefund Manager, StockPickr, Bitcoin investor, recently aiming to found a bitcoin exchange)

Mark Pincus (Zynga)

Sebastian Thrun (Udacity)

Justin Waldron (Zynga, Investor in Kik)

Tom Preston-Werner (Gravatar, Github) – Resigned from Github

Noah Kagan (Sumo.com, AppSumo)

Kevin Lin – Cofounder COO Twitch

Andrew D’Souza (Founder of Clearbanc, moved from TO to SF, advisor to Kik, previously at Top Hat)

David King (Green Patch, Blibby) 

Mich Kaufman (Fixer)

Raj Kapoor (Lyft exec)

Lynda Ting (Venture/M&A exec, broad experience, connected in crypto)

Neil Shah (Exec at Twitter/Slack)

Thomas Hatwrig (King.com)

Daren Tsui (Imvu)

Brian Armstrong (Coinbase)

Fred Wilson (USV)

Moe Adam (Bitaccess)

Michael Kitchen (Wealthsimple)

Michele Romano (Clearbanc, Buytopia, Snap Saves)

Sam Teller (SpaceX, Tesla, and like tons of other stuff)

Glad Gil (growth exec and investor)

Adam Ludwig (chain.com)

Brian Acton (WhatsApp and Signal)

Evan Spiegel (Snapchat)

Adam Cochran

Written by Adam Cochran

Adam is a marketing and product executive with over a decade of experience in growth marketing, product design and information science. He's also consulted for some of the largest blockchain projects and was a key player behind the marketing of Dogecoin in 2014.

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