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Messaging app snapped up by Rakuten

two calls 1105261 m

Messaging app snapped up by Rakuten

Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten has bought messaging app Viber to add to its growing digital empire. The two firms reached an agreement after Rakuten offered around $900m (£540m) to acquire Cyprus-based Viber.

The deal was announced at the same time Rakuten reported that full-year net profit doubled to $427m (£255m) and the purchase of Viber, which has around 300 million users signed up, is just the latest acquisition in an ever expanding portfolio of online services. Rakuten has already purchased entertainment site Wuaki.tv and Singaporean online streaming company Viki, as well as purchasing a stake in the social networking site Pinterest two years ago.

Rakuten’s chief executive, Hiroshi Mikitani, describes the acquisition as:

“…a totally new strategy that will take Rakuten to a different level.”

He added:

“Developing this messaging system on our own would have been impossible.”

The move is also welcomed by Viber’s chief executive and founder Talmon Marco, who describes the sale as:

“…an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance rapid user growth in both existing and new markets.”

Marco then continued:

“Sharing similar aspirations with Rakuten, our vision is to be the world’s number one communications platform, and our combination with Rakuten is an important step in that direction.

Rakuten suggests that it has used this move as part of an internet marketing strategy aimed at its target market, the younger generations, to promote other products on offer, pointing out that messaging apps such as Viber and its rival Whatsapp are used more than email and other generic news feeds.

Richard Bell

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