Rakuten acquires Viber for US$900 million

Rakuten has appointed messaging and VoIP company Viber for US$900 million. This is its latest move into the digital content space, following its acquisitions of Kobo, Wuaki.tv, and Viki.

Viber currently has a global user base of 300 million registered users. Created by Viber Media, it allows users to connect globally and send free messages, stickers, photos, videos share locations and make free calls.

This is expected to help Rakuten penetrate new markets with multiple digital content offerings, in combination with its e-commerce and financial services platforms.

Rakuten chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani said: “Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform,” amidst other qualities such consistent quality.

“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,” said Mikitani.

Viber CEO and founder, Talmon Marco also highlighted Rakuten’s dominance in Japan as well its global ambitions.

Rakuten began its march into global digital content in 2012 with the acquisition of eReading services Kobo Inc, which offers four million eBooks, magazines and newspapers. It also acquired Wuaki.tv, an Europe-based video-on-demand and streaming service. 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.