Japanese e commerce giant Rakuten Inc has just announced that it will acquire call-application maker Cyprus-based Viber Media Inc. for a reported $900 million, in the online retailer’s first major foray into voice communications.
Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten Chairman and CEO, said in a statement:
“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.”
In case you are unfamiliar with Viber, it allows users make Internet-based calls on smartphones and computers. It competes with several other messaging apps which are getting more and more popular, including LINE and WeChat. LINE has voice call integrated in its service, allowing users to call other users over the Internet. Other than LINE and other messaging apps, it also competes with Skype.
The acquisition will expand the Japanese e-commerce giant’s global portfolio of services, which now spans e-readers, financial services, and the baseball team that until recently hosted star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
According to Reuters, Rakuten said the purchase of Viber Media, run from Cyprus by Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco, will add 300 million users to its existing 200 million users.
Earlier in September last year, the Japanese e commerce giant also bought over Singapore base TV site Viki for $200 million dollars, in a move to deliver more value to its users.
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