The massive Japanese eTailer and ecommerce company Rakuten has announced that they will be purchasing the popular messaging app Viber to the tune of $900 million USD. This would make Viber the most valuable 3rd party messaging app in the world. Do keep in mind that Viber is the most cross-platform messaging platform and probably has one of the biggest user bases in the world. Clearly, Rakuten saw Viber’s rise to prominence as one that they value and believe to be valuable to the company’s overall online presence. This isn’t the company’s first acquisition of a globally prominent brand, as they had also acquired the Canadian Kobo eReader company back in 2011/2012.
While the purchase price is nearly triple what we had originally announced as rumored ($300-400 million), it was accurate that the rumor stated it was going to a large Asian company. The only problem was that the original rumor claimed that it was a major Asian messaging app/company which turned out not to be accurate. Sure, it was still an Asian company with a vast online presence, but it wasn’t any of Viber’s actual Asian competitors.
I believe that Rakuten could easily integrate Viber into their product portfolios and to help improve the apps penetration across their platforms and services. They could additionally utilize it as an application for support and customer service, giving them a better and more direct connection with their users and improve customer service. If they make themselves easily accessible via Viber and use it for both communication between users as well as between users and companies it could further improve the value of Viber. It would be nice if all eTailers had a Viber address or chat address that users could access for quicker and more direct support.
While I don’t think Rakuten’s goal is customer service or support, I believe that they want to integrate Viber into more services and simultaneously integrate more services into Viber to make it more profitable. I personally use Viber and have recruited numerous friends to use the app as well and I believe that many users are happy enough with the application to pay for premium features like HD video chat or some other new premium services. Viber has clearly been innovating and I believe that this app will continue to innovate and improve as they join a highly competitive Japanese online firm.