Last week, Viber messaging app was sold to Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc.
For the Japanese company this was a logical business move, following previous efforts to shift the boundaries of its digital empire. With 300 million registered users, Viber is enabling its new owner to reach an entirely new audience at the global level. Rakuten owns the largest e-commerce platform in Japan, which, in many ways, is a multi-oriented shopping mall, covering a vast number of merchandise. Its services range from a web-based bank, all the way to video games. Rakuten’s chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani has stated before that the firm has been trying to find new ways to expand. Over the past couple of years, the company has acquired the Canadian e-reader company Kobo, European video-on-demand company Wuaki.tv, Singaporean online TV and film streaming Viki, and it also purchased a stake in Pinterest.
“This acquisition is a totally new strategy that will take Rakuten to a different level,” said Hiroshi Mikitani. Viber’s CEO and founder, Talmon Marco thinks this combination presents an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance their rapid user growth in both existing and new markets. “Sharing similar aspirations with Rakuten, our vision is to be the world’s number one ommunications platform, and our combination with Rakuten is an important step in that direction.”, he said. Viber holds a strong position among the top five smartphone call and messaging apps. Some of its major competitors are Skype and WhatsApp. Viber’s most important markets include the US, Russia, Australia and the Middle East. The potential of this particular market is huge. The deal between Viber and Rakuten certainly might inspire new acquisitions and/or mergers in the sector. This business transaction undoubtedly marks the beginning of an entirely new direction in the sphere of digital communications.