The messaging platform Viber may soon be acquired for between $300 and 400 million, according to a Tuesday report in Israel’s Calcalist. Not bad, considering Viber achieved its 200 million-strong registered user base without outside investment.
According to that piece — and Calcalist is generally well-plugged-in — Viber’s potential buyer is a big Asian instant messaging outfit. That means it’s China’s WeChat, Japan’s Line or Korea’s KakaoTalk, though as TechEU has pointed out, it could also be Samsung, which has a chat app called ChatON.
Out of those options, I see WeChat, run by Shenzhen-based Tencent, as Viber’s most likely suitor. One of the Israeli/Cypriot company’s greatest strengths is that it has a fully fledged desktop app that is impressively integrated with the mobile app while also making Viber a credible Skype rival.
Kakaotalk and Line both already have PC apps, while WeChat does not and could use the tech — properly blending desktop and mobile functionality is not a trivial matter.
All of those Asian players are working hard to take on the biggest beasts in the mobile messaging business: WhatsApp (with 400 million monthly active users) and Facebook Messenger. The impact of this race for users extends beyond the mobile messaging space, too – in many ways, these platforms are becoming the new social networks, geared toward small groups rather than broadcasting to hundreds of contacts.
Anyhow, a Viber spokesman told me CEO Talmon Marco “says he has no knowledge of any of the items mentioned in the story” — so let’s see what comes of this.