Internet firm Rakuten buys communications app Viber for US$900m

14 Feb 2014

Image via Viber's Facebook page

In an effort to expand its digital content into emerging markets, internet company Rakuten has acquired chat and messaging app Viber for US$900m.

Japanese company Rakuten already owns online retailer and Canadian e-reader Kobo.

Cyprus-based Viber has 300m registered users. The acquisition will add that user base to Rakuten’s existing 200m users, Reuters reported.

“This acquisition … will take Rakuten to a different level,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive of Rakuten.

“Developing this messaging system on our own would have been impossible,” Reuters quoted Mikitani as having said.

Under the deal, Mikitani said, Rakuten users could, for instance, use Viber’s service to send an instant message to an online store while considering a purchase.

Talmon Marco, Viber founder and CEO, said the company shares the same aspirations as Rakuten to be the world’s No 1 communications platform.

“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,” Marco added.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic