Skype VoIP app rival Viber bought by Rakuten for $900 million

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

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What red hook says is completely wrong. Viber is extremely popular NOT for the text chatting, but for the VOICE. It's voice calling technology is far superior to Skype in ways that it's much clearer to speak and hear using that app. Skype needs to work on their quality because Viber has it beat in that department by a lot. Also Viber interface is much easier to use. Plus, Viber is very very popular in Asia. In Asia, people often voice call and text using Viber, but Video Chat with Skype..

This is not a "flavor of the month VOIP" app. If you think so, then you don't anything about the history and popularity of this underrated app.

If Rakuten wants to expand it's customer base, they need to seriously improve their customer service as an online retailer. They are rated 1.36 out of a possible 10 at Money spent in the wrong place unless they have decided to leave the retail space.

wow, close to 1 billion for a company that has $1.5 in revenue? also, total users is a BS #, I downloaded the app, opened it once, never used.

also most of these voip app are being used as free messenger apps in emerging markets. You find a free wifi and you can message your friends for free..see whatsapp, see tango, see skype, and next month flavor of the month voip.