Rakuten, an Internet commerce company based in Japan has acquired popular instant messaging and VoIP app, Viber for $900M (estimated RM 3 billion).
It was only a few days ago that Israel’s Calcalist financial newspaper reported that Viber was in talks to be acquired by a leading instant messaging company from Asia for $300 million-$400 million. However, Viber denied this.
Viber claims that it multi-platform application adoption is undeniably impressive. The business has demonstrated significant growth reaching 300 million registered users in 193 countries, growing over 120% in 2013.
The Viber application is developed by Viber Media. The company is run by Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco and has development centres in Belarus and Israel.
Via the Viber app, users can send free text messages, fun stickers, photos, videos and doodles, share locations anywhere in the world, make free HD-quality calls and communicate with Push-To-Talk. With Viber Out, users can make low-cost calls to any phone number around the world. Viber is available for iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Windows, Mac, Linux, Symbian, Nokia S40 and Bada devices.
In a statement, Rakuten Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, commented, “I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family. Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available. Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform. Simply put, Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts. This makes Viber the ideal total consumer engagement platform for Rakuten as we seek to bring our deep understanding of the consumer to vast new audiences through our dynamic ecosystem of Internet Services.”
Viber CEO and Founder, Talmon Marco said, “Rakuten is one of the world’s most important Internet companies. It is truly dominant in its home market of Japan and has been rapidly expanding globally. This combination presents an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance our rapid user growth in both existing and new markets. Sharing similar aspirations with Rakuten, our vision is to be the world’s No.1 communications platform and our combination with Rakuten is an important step in that direction.”
In 2012, Rakuten acquired Kobo Inc., that now offers 4 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers to customers in 190 countries. In the same year, Rakuten acquired Wuaki.tv, an Europe-based video-on-demand and streaming service, which recently began its international expansion beyond Spain by offering customers in the UK its premier movie titles catalogue and unique hybrid payment model. More recently, in September 2013, Rakuten acquired digital content platform, Viki, which now reaches 65% of its 30 million monthly users through mobile devices.
Rakuten Inc. calls its self an Internet service company, providing a variety of services for consumers and businesses, including in the areas of e-commerce, eReading, travel, banking, securities , credit cards, e-money, logistics, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports.
The company currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. Headquartered in Tokyo, Rakuten was founded in 1997 and currently has over 10,000 employees and partner staff worldwide.[Source]– BusinessWire