Chairman and Chief Executive of e-commerce operator Rakuten Inc Hiroshi Mikitani (L) and Viber Media Chief Executive Talmon Marco
Viber, the instant messaging and VoIP platform, has been bought by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten. Several days after it categorically denied acquisition rumours. The deal is worth $900 million – a huge amount for a company that generates almost no revenue and has never raised venture capital. After the acquisition, the messaging service is expected to continue operating as normal.
Founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said in a statement to Bloomberg:
“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.”
Show Press Release
Rakuten Acquires Viber for $900 million
Rakuten accelerates its digital strategy by entering global messaging and VoIP, reinforces its focus on rapid growth of its global membership and Internet services ecosystem
February 14, 2014 01:40 AM Eastern Standard Time
TOKYO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rakuten Inc (4755:Tokyo), one of the world’s largest Internet services companies, announced today its acquisition of pioneering messaging and VoIP company, Viber. Rakuten will acquire Viber for a total consideration of $900 million. The acquisition represents another bold step for Rakuten into the digital content space, following its acquisitions of Kobo, Wuaki.tv, and Viki.
As people continue to shift from traditional content and communications platforms to mobile applications, Viber, one of the most popular mobile communications services worldwide with a rapidly growing global user base of 300 million registered users, perfectly complements Rakuten’s strategy in the digital space. As Rakuten aims to become the world’s No.1 Internet services company, this acquisition will enable Rakuten to penetrate new markets with multiple digital content offerings, in combination with its e-commerce and financial services platforms.
With 40 different services, Rakuten has built one of the world’s most robust and dynamic Internet services ecosystems, centered around a unified ID membership database that features the enormously popular and successful online Rakuten Super Points rewards program. Viber’s fun approach to messaging and high quality VoIP services is a perfect marriage with Rakuten’s digital content offerings and its “Shopping is Entertainment” philosophy laying the foundation for the world’s most comprehensive and engaging daily online platform. The combination also unlocks massive new potential markets for Viber through Rakuten Group’s roughly 225 million global members.
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.”
Viber’s multi-platform application adoption is undeniably impressive. The business has demonstrated significant growth reaching 300 million registered users, growing over 120% in 2013.
Rakuten began its march into global digital content in 2012 with the acquisition of Kobo Inc., one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services, that now offers 4 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers to customers in 190 countries. In 2012, Rakuten acquired Wuaki.tv, an innovative 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 borderless digital content platform, Viki, which now reaches 65% of its 30 million monthly users through mobile devices.
Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as sole financial advisor to Viber. White & Case LLP acted as sole legal advisor to Viber.
ABOUT RAKUTEN, INC.
Rakuten, Inc. (4755:Tokyo), is one of the world’s leading Internet service companies, 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. In both 2012 and 2013, Rakuten was ranked among the world’s Top 10 most innovative companies in Forbes magazine’s annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and 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. For more information:http://global.rakuten.com/corp/.
Viber is developed by Viber Media, a pioneering mobile messaging and VoIP company. Viber lets everyone in the world connect. Freely. Viber 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®, Windows 8®, Mac, Linux, Symbian, Nokia S40 and Bada devices over 3G/4G or WiFi connections. With nearly 300 million users in 193 countries, Viber is constantly innovating by introducing new platforms and adding fun new features.
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