Rakuten buys Skype rival Viber for $900m

14/02/2014

Rakuten has bought instant messaging and voice app Viber for $900m, as the Japanesse ecommerce giant and owner of Play.com continues its expansion into new markets.

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Rakuten's purchase of the messaging and VoIP company follows its acquisitions of Canada's e-book platform Kobo, Spanish video service Wuaki.tv, and Viki, a digital content platform.

Viber currently has a global user base of 300 million registered users, and fits into Rakuten’s aim to become ‘the world’s No.1 Internet services company’.

Viber, which offers apps across all major mobile platforms and desktop PCs, grew over 120% in 2013.

The app's users can send free text messages, stickers, photos, videos and doodles, share locations , 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.

Besides providing access to Rakuten to new markets, the deal will offer new potential markets for Viber through Rakuten users.

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, underlined these synergies: “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.”

Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as sole financial advisor to Viber. White & Case LLP acted as sole legal advisor to Viber.

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