You can never trust a million-dollar CEO. This Tuesday, Viber's chief, Talmon Marco, dismissed rumors of acquisition by an Asian company. Only four days later, the VoIP service is now property of Rakuten. The Japanese e-commerce giant has bought Viber for $900 million. It owns Rakuten Ichiba, the largest e-commerce site in Japan. Since 2005, its list of acquisitions has expanded with Buy.com, Priceminister, Ikeda , Tradoria, Play.com, Wuaki.tv, and Kobo Inc.
Rakuten's CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, praised Viber's messaging and VoIP experience. He also touted its "great sticker market" and "tremendous potential as a gaming platform". While it's not clear how Rakuten will make use of its acquisition, Mikitani-sama considers it "the ideal consumer engagement platform" for the company's "ecosystem of Internet Services".
After the acquisition, Rakuten expects to merge its 200 million user base with Viber's close to 300 million users. It hasn't been made clear how the service will be integrated with Rakuten's products. We hope Viber will continue to exist as usual.