Last week, Viber messaging app was sold ago Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc.
For Rakuten, this was a logical business move, following previous efforts to shift the boundaries of its digital empire.
With 300 million registered users, Viber allows its new owner to reach an entirely new global audience. Rakuten owns the largest e-commerce platform in Japan, which, in many ways, is a multi-oriented shopping mall, covering a vast amount of merchandise. Its services include a web-based bank, video games, and an e-commerce platform.
Rakuten’s chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani has said 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, and Singaporean online TV and film streaming Viki. Rakuten has also invested 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, while competing against Skype, WhatsApp, KakaoTalk, and WeChat. Viber’s most important markets include the United States, Russia, Australia and the Middle East. The potential of this particular market is huge and remains underappreciated.
The deal between Viber and Rakuten may likely 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 communication.