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Friday, February 14, 2014

Japanese e-commerce giant buys Israeli messaging app Viber for $900M

Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc said Friday it will buy Israeli-owned instant messaging app provider Viber Media Ltd for $900 million, hoping to tap the company's rapidly expanding business in emerging markets.

Rakuten said the purchase of Viber Media, run from Cyprus by Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco, will add 300 million users to its existing 200 million users.

Bloomberg quoted billionaire Rakuten owner Hiroshi Mikitani as saying that the acquisition is expected to be completed next month. According to Bloomberg, Mikitani believes that e-commerce will become "a more communication-based transaction.”  

A statement from Mikitani on Friday praised Viber as "the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available."

"Simply put, Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts," he said. "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.”

A statement from Viber CEO Talmon Marco also highlighted the potential for instant messaging in the world of internet commerce

“This combination presents an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance our rapid user growth in both existing and new markets," Marco said. "Sharing similar aspirations with Rakuten, our vision is to be the world’s No.1 communications platform and our combination with Rakuten is an important step in that direction.”

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