Rakuten, which owns Play.com and ebook retailer Kobo, has bought Voice over IP (VOIP) company Viber for $900 million.
The purchase is the latest acquisition by the Japanese firm which also owns streaming TV & film services Wuaki.tv and Viki and has set itself the aim of becoming the world’s No.1 Internet services company.
VOIP apps are increasingly popular as they allow users to make free calls over WiFi and mobile data connections, helping them cut tariff costs.
Viber has more than 300 million registered users and describes itself as “one of the most popular mobile communications services worldwide.”
Rakuten Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, commented: “I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family. Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available.
“Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform. Simply put, Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts.
“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.”
Viber CEO and Founder, Talmon Marco, added: “Rakuten is one of the world’s most important Internet companies. It is truly dominant in its home market of Japan and has been rapidly expanding globally.
“This combination presents an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance our rapid user growth in both existing and new markets. 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.”