Viber, the popular VoIP app company and a growing rival to Microsoft's Skype, has now been acquired by Japanese online retailer Rakuten for $900 million. The move signals a push by Rakuten to expand Viber's user base.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Rakuten decided to buy the Cyprus-based Viber because it felt that the price would be much higher very soon due to its rapidly growing user base. Currently, Viber has 300 million users, which will be added to Rakuten's own base of 200 million users. All those new Viber users could set up accounts to shop on Rakuten's website, according to its President Hiroshi Mikitani. Microsoft has never released Skype's user base numbers, but some analysts estimated it has over 1 billion users.
Launching in 2010 for the iPhone, Viber has expanded the number of platforms it supports to include Android, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone and Windows and Mac desktops, among others. The company has never made money; in fact today's report said that it lost $29.5 million in 2013 on revenues of $1.5 million. However, there's been a lot of expansion for the app in emerging markets and Rakuten hopes to increase the app's revenue base by adding games, among other things.
Source: WSJ | Image via Viber