Viber agrees $900M sale to Rakuten - Mobile World Live

Viber agrees $900M sale to Rakuten

14 FEB 2014

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten acquired Viber for $900 million, just days after the CEO of the mobile messaging player denied it was in acquisition talks.

Rakuten said the deal is aimed at strengthening its global platform by bringing Viber’s user base to its e-commerce and digital content services.

Viber has 280 million global registered users in nearly 200 countries and more than 100 million monthly active users. It is also quickly growing its user base, particularly in emerging markets.

Asia has seen the rise of a number of messaging apps, most notably WeChat in China, LINE in Japan and KakaoTalk in South Korea. All of these messaging services have user bases that stretch into the hundreds of millions but which are predominantly located in particular regions.

Viber, like WhatsApp, has a more global user base, which would allow Rakuten to move into new markets, supporting its ambitions to become the biggest internet services company globally.

News of the deal follows Talmon Marco, the CEO of Viber, denying that the company was in talks to be acquired by an Asian company earlier this week, following reports in an Israeli publication Calcalist.

According to Rakuten, 11.4 per cent of Viber is owned by the Marco family.

Last year was the first in which Viber generated revenue, which stood at $1.52 million. The company made a net loss of $29.51 million in 2013, compared with $14.73 million loss in 2012.

Viber recently boosted its efforts to generate revenue by introducing functionality that enables users to make low-cost calls to any mobile or landline phone number. Viber Out brings Viber into more direct competition with Skype, which also supports voice calls to “traditional” phone numbers.

Its first attempt to monetise its messaging app was the introduction of its Sticker Market, which it launched in October last year.

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Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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