Rakuten completes $900-million Viber takeover
Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten has acquired Viber, the free instant messaging and VoIP smartphone application, for $900 million to expand its platform of Internet-based services. Under the deal, the publicly-traded Rakuten will own 100% of Viber, but the latter will continue to operate independently within the Rakuten group, maintaining its management, employees, and regional offices.
Viber founder and CEO Talmon Marco said the relationship will allow the company to tap into Rakuten’s expertise and massive user base in order to further accelerate its growth and monetization plans worldwide. “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,” Marco said. “This combination presents an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance our rapid user growth in both existing and new markets.” Rakuten provides services for consumers and businesses in the areas of e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit cards, e-money, logistics, portal and media, online marketing, and professional sports.
It runs Rakuten Ichiba, the largest e-commerce site in Japan. Marco said there are no plans to change any of Viber’s basic services.
“Viber will continue offering best-in-class messaging, voice, and video to over eight million users in the Philippines,” he said. Plans for any Rakuten-related content on Viber are yet to be determined, according to Marco. “But it is likely that Rakuten’s massive span of services ranging from e-commerce to e-books to travel businesses and many other ventures will be made available over time to Viber users,” he added. Marco and his partner, Igor Megzinik, launched Viber in December 2010. Since then, the application gained over 200 million users around the globe.