Rakuten buys messaging app Viber for $900 million

In a blockbuster move that bodes well for businesses in the messaging space, Viber has been acquired by Tokyo-based internet retailer Rakuten Inc. in an all cash deal worth $900 million. Viber is among the most downloaded phone and messaging apps in the world and boasts a user base of 300 million with most of its users in the United States, Australia and Russia.

He recently lost the pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to the New York Yankees, but Hiroshi Mikitani, the billionaire owner of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, may now have found some solace. On Friday, Rakuten said it would buy Viber Media, which runs a popular app for calling and messaging, for $900 million. The move by Rakuten would bolster Mr. Mikitani’s fast-growing empire, whose businesses already include the Rakuten online marketplace, a travel agency, credit cards and the baseball team Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, which once had Mr. Tanaka on its roster.

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