Messaging App Viber Acquired by Japan’s Rakuten for $900 Million

Viber users, looks like your messaging app now has a new overlord as the Cyprus-based company has been acquired by Japan’s Rakuten for $900 million, reports Re/code:

Japan’s Rakuten paid $900 million for Viber, the messaging company. The Cyprus-based Viber is a voice application, which is a new arena for Rakuten. It gives Rakuten the technology to make Internet calls on a range of devices such as smartphones.

Viber 4

The move is seen to provide Rakuten with a global presence since Viber is available in 193 countries with over 300 million users across various mobile platforms including your desktop.

The Japanese company generates its revenue primarily from its large online shopping mall, online travel service and Internet bank. You may recall Rakuten, owned by Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, acquired Canada’s e-book firm Kobo for $315 million in 2011; other investments include a major stake in online scrapbook site Pinterest.

At a briefing in Tokyo, Mikitani said Viber would provide a distribution channel for their digital products and hopes to build a gaming platform with the messaging service:

“In the future, e-commerce will become a more communication-based transaction,” Mikitani said. “Live interactivity is going to be critical for all Internet services.”

We first wrote about Viber during its launch in late 2010, when it debuted in the App Store. The app allowed incredibly clear and free VoIP calling over 3G and Wi-Fi networks with video too, rivalling Skype. Viber Out was recently launched to enable users to call mobiles and landlines.

Click here to download Viber for iOS—it’s free.