This is kind of interesting. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that the popular voice call app Viber has agreed to a deal to be acquired by Rakuten for $900 million. For those unfamiliar with the e-commerce giant, it’s essentially Japan’s version of Amazon.
Viber is available on all major mobile and desktop platforms, and is one of Skype’s biggest competitors with over 300 million users worldwide. It was one of the first apps to allow 3G VoIP on the iPhone and it now supports land-line calls, messages and even push-to-talk…
Here’s the report from The Journal:
“Japan’s Rakuten Inc. 4755.TO +1.22% said it will acquire call-application maker Viber Media Inc. for $900 million, in the online retailer’s first major foray into voice communications.
The deal for Cyprus-based Viber, which lets users make Internet-based calls on smartphones and computers, expands 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.”
And their statements from the press release:
“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.”
While the $900 million offer seems a bit small in comparison to other tech acquisition deals, it’s worth noting that Viber doesn’t make much money. It’s only recently began generating revenue via sticker sales and Viber Out, which allows users to call non-Viber numbers for a fee.
Rakuten, for its part, generates about $65 billion in revenue per year, and has recently made major investments in Pinterest, and Canadian e-book firm Kobo. There’s no word yet on its plans for Viber, but it appears that it’s going to continue to operate it as a standalone service.