Japan’s Rakuten buys Viber for $900 million

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has announced that is acquiring messaging app maker Viber for $900 million. This is the first deal by Rakuten in the communications arena. The company mainly operates in e-readers, e-commerce, online banking and travel services.

The Viber acquisition should help Rakuten in its global ambitions as most of its current revenue comes with Japan itself.

“Rakuten generates about ¥400 billion in annual revenue from its main businesses: an online shopping mall with tens of thousands of merchants, a Web-based travel service and an Internet bank,” notes Wall Street Journal.Viber logo

Bloomberg adds:

Viber will provide a distribution channel for Rakuten’s digital products, Rakuten’s Hiroshi Mikitani said at a briefing in Tokyo. The company also hopes to create a game platform on Viber.

“As Rakuten aims to become the world’s number one Internet services company, this acquisition will enable Rakuten to penetrate new markets with multiple digital content offerings, in combination with its e-commerce and financial services platforms,” the company said in a statement.

Rakuten had earlier bought Canadian e-reader maker Kobo, Wuaki.tv, and Viki. It has also invested heavily in Pinterest.

To remind you, Viber provides mobile messaging and VoIP service via its applications on almost all platforms. It currently has over 300 million users in 193 countries and competes with the likes of Line and Skype. Its parent company Viber Media was founded in 2010 by Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco.

[Press Release]