Rakuten Acquires Viber for $900 million

  Rakuten Acquires Viber for $900 million

  Rakuten accelerates its digital strategy by entering global messaging and
   VoIP, reinforces its focus on rapid growth of its global membership and
                         Internet services ecosystem

Business Wire

TOKYO -- February 14, 2014

Rakuten Inc (4755:Tokyo), one of the world’s largest Internet services
companies, announced today its acquisition of pioneering messaging and VoIP
company, Viber. Rakuten will acquire Viber for a total consideration of $900
million. The acquisition represents another bold step for Rakuten into the
digital content space, following its acquisitions of Kobo, Wuaki.tv, and Viki.

As people continue to shift from traditional content and communications
platforms to mobile applications, Viber, one of the most popular mobile
communications services worldwide with a rapidly growing global user base of
300 million registered users, perfectly complements Rakuten’s strategy in the
digital space. As Rakuten aims to become the world’s No.1 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.

With 40 different services, Rakuten has built one of the world’s most robust
and dynamic Internet services ecosystems, centered around a unified ID
membership database that features the enormously popular and successful online
Rakuten Super Points rewards program. Viber’s fun approach to messaging and
high quality VoIP services is a perfect marriage with Rakuten’s digital
content offerings and its “Shopping is Entertainment” philosophy laying the
foundation for the world’s most comprehensive and engaging daily online
platform. The combination also unlocks massive new potential markets for Viber
through Rakuten Group’s roughly 225 million global members.

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

Viber CEO and Founder, Talmon Marco, underlined these synergies:

“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

Viber’s multi-platform application adoption is undeniably impressive. The
business has demonstrated significant growth reaching 300 million registered
users, growing over 120% in 2013.

Rakuten began its march into global digital content in 2012 with the
acquisition of Kobo Inc., one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading
services, that now offers 4 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers to
customers in 190 countries. In 2012, Rakuten acquired Wuaki.tv, an innovative
Europe-based video-on-demand and streaming service, which recently began its
international expansion beyond Spain by offering customers in the UK its
premier movie titles catalogue and unique hybrid payment model. More recently,
in September 2013, Rakuten acquired borderless digital content platform, Viki,
which now reaches 65% of its 30 million monthly users through mobile devices.


Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as sole financial advisor to Viber. White & Case
LLP acted as sole legal advisor to Viber.


Rakuten, Inc. (4755:Tokyo), is one of the world's leading Internet service
companies, providing a variety of services for consumers and businesses,
including in the areas of e-commerce, eReading, travel, banking, securities ,
credit cards, e-money, logistics, portal and media, online marketing and
professional sports. In both 2012 and 2013, Rakuten was ranked among the
world’s Top 10 most innovative companies in Forbes magazine’s annual list.
Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe,
the Americas, and Oceania. Headquartered in Tokyo Rakuten was founded in 1997
and currently has over 10,000 employees and partner staff worldwide. For more
information: http://global.rakuten.com/corp/.


Viber is developed by Viber Media, a pioneering mobile messaging and VoIP
company. Viber lets everyone in the world connect. Freely. Viber users can
send free text messages, fun stickers, photos, videos and doodles, share
locations anywhere in the world, make free HD-quality calls and communicate
with Push-To-Talk. With Viber Out, users can make low-cost calls to any phone
number around the world. Viber is available for iPhone®, Android phones and
tablets,™ Windows Phone, Blackberry®, Windows®, Windows 8®, Mac, Linux,
Symbian, Nokia S40 and Bada devices over 3G/4G or WiFi connections. With
nearly 300 million users in 193 countries, Viber is constantly innovating by
introducing new platforms and adding fun new features.


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Israel: Scherf Communications
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