Rakuten snaps up messaging app maker Viber for $900M

The Japanese e-commerce giant says that the maker of popular voice and messaging apps "perfectly complements" its digital strategy.

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Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten said Thursday it has paid $900 million to acquire Viber, the maker of popular voice and messaging services.

Viber specializes in mobile apps for iOS, Android, and most other operating systems, allowing people to use their mobile numbers in place of usernames and allowing for free calls and multimedia messages over cellular or Wi-Fi connections. Founded in 2010 by Israeli entrepreneur Talmon Marco, the company now counts 300 million users in 193 countries.

Rakuten said the deal for the Cyprus-based mobile voice and chat messaging company "perfectly complements" its digital strategy.

"As Rakuten aims to become the world's number one 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," the company said in a statement.

Rakuten is said to generate $3.9 billion in revenue from an e-commerce platform that offers user IDs similar to those from Amazon and Apple. Once people log in to a Rakuten or Rakuten-associated Web site, they can make purchases with the payment information associated with their Rakuten IDs.

Recent large investments by Rakuten include leading a $100 million round of financing in Pinterest and a $315 million acquisition of Kobo, maker of the eponymous e-reader best associated with former bookseller giant Borders.