Rakuten to buy Internet messaging app Viber for $900 million

Viber is Rakuten's latest acquisition following Kobo, Wuaki.tv and Viki.

Japan's Rakuten will acquire instant messaging and calling app developer Viber Media for US$900 million, the e-commerce giant said Friday, highlighting its moves to penetrate new markets.

Rakuten's purchase of the messaging and VoIP company follows its acquisitions of Canada's e-book platform Kobo, Spanish video service Wuaki.tv, and Viki, a digital content platform.

The company aims to be the world's number one Internet services company, and buying Viber compliments its strategy in the digital space.

Founded by CEO Talmon Marco, Viber adds some 300 million registered users to Rakuten Group's user base, which numbers about 225 million across its 40 services around the world.

Viber has rocketed in popularity as a potential rival to Skype, announcing 100 million worldwide users in September 2011, and then more than 200 million in May of 2013.

The Viber app 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 Wi-Fi connections. Besides providing access to Rakuten to new markets, the deal will offer new potential markets for Viber through Rakuten users.

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