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Japanese e-commerce company buys VoIP play Viber

Rakuten is owned by Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani and the Viber deal means he’s doubled the number of registered users he’s carrying. Rakuten is the biggest e-commerce platform in Japan. This is a numbers game and Mikitani is reportedly looking to grow his empire beyond relatively stagnant home territory, rather like Masayoshi Son has set out to do by extending mobile operator Softbank into the US via Sprint.

However Viber is a global play and is actually run from Cyptrus by Israeli entrepreneur, Tlmon Marco. The transaction adds 300 million users to Rakuten’s existing 200 million and there’s talk of Viber assisting with the shopping experience (although we heard this sort of talk when eBay bought Skype and the supposed synergies never arrived, hence Skype eventually ending up with Microsoft ).

But Rakuten is no semi-monetised struggler. Reuters reports that its operating profit has jumped 80 percent to 90.2 billion yen (US$882.89 million).

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