Rakuten To Acquire Global Video Streaming Service Viki

Disruptive Approach to Video Opens up New Markets to Rakuten

Sep 02, 2013, 03:04 ET from Viki, Inc.

TOKYO and SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Rakuten, Inc. (4755:Tokyo), one of the world's largest internet services companies, today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire global video streaming platform Viki. The acquisition represents a significant step forward for Rakuten as it continues to add to its digital content offerings and launch its internet services ecosystem into new markets.

Viki's totally unique business model creates new value for a global audience. Viki is a global TV and video site that uniquely brings primetime TV shows, movies, music videos and other premium video content to new audiences and opens up entirely new markets for content providers. Through its social TV and subtitling intellectual property, Viki's community of viewers have crowdsourced subtitles in more than 160 languages and translated more than 400 million words to date.

Rakuten Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi (Mickey) Mikitani, commented on the deal:

"Viki is a one-of-kind company with an entirely unique approach to video streaming that is truly global and truly engaging. They are fast, agile, and highly mobile. Their smart and creative approach to bringing popular content to global audiences will enable Rakuten to move quickly into new markets around the world."

"There are a striking number of synergies and shared philosophies between our two businesses; the Viki model is built on a powerful community, focused on removing the language barriers that have traditionally trapped great content inside geographical borders. Since our foundation, Rakuten's focus too has been to open up great services, content and goods to a global community. Viki is a perfect complement to Rakuten's joint philosophies of Empowerment and Shopping IS entertainment."

Razmig Hovaghimian, Viki CEO and co-founder, adds:

"Our vision is very well aligned with Rakuten's focus on building a borderless digital ecosystem. We've built a truly global TV platform, with and for the fans, allowing content owners to reach the world in any language."

The Viki model has allowed us to unlock a massive torso of untapped demand. While viewers get to enjoy great entertainment they never knew existed anywhere, anytime and in their language, content owners get to reach a globally fragmented market, and increase the size of their target market multiple-fold through localization. Focusing on both content providers and fans, has allowed us to reach traditional TV like ratings online, with top shows getting translated in more than 50 languages."

With Rakuten, we can now focus on building an entertainment ecosystem that also seamlessly allows viewers and content partners to jump across platforms, and interact with relevant Rakuten products and services seamlessly. I am thrilled to enter our next phase of growth as part of the Rakuten family, creating a service that competes with the largest industry players."

Setting the Stage for a Global Rakuten Ecosystem

With this acquisition, Rakuten plans to leverage Viki's global footprint, content and language analytics and community-first DNA to further expand the scope of its $16 billion internet services ecosystem. Rakuten and Viki expect exponential growth in Viki's primary revenue driver, selling advertising against its video content. Viki also syndicates select content and has the potential to launch new revenue models. At the same time, Viki can now leverage Rakuten's 85 million registered users in Japan and deep digital commerce and media experience to grow its user base in Japan and Europe.

Rakuten began its march into global digital content in 2012 when it acquired Kobo Inc., one of the world's fastest-growing eReading services that now offers 4-million eBooks, magazines and newspapers to customers in 190 countries. That same year, Rakuten welcomed Wuaki.tv, an innovative Europe-based video-on-demand and streaming service, which recently began its international expansion beyond Spain by offering customers in the UK its premier movie titles catalogue and unique hybrid payment model. Viki perfectly complements Wuaki.tv's front-line strategy and extends Rakuten's digital content offering to include international primetime and mid-and long-tail content from leading broadcasters and distributors.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Viki Facts

Launched: December 2010         
CEO and Co-Founder: Razmig Hovaghimian           
Offices: San Francisco, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo          
Employees: 50            
About Viki: Video http://www.viki.com/videos/1010376v-official-viki-channel-viki-concept-video-episode-10             
Users: 22 million+            
Mobile app installs: 12 million+               
Minutes viewed per day: 40 million+           
Streams per year: 1 billion+           
Viewer countries: 200              
Regional strengths: North America, South America, Asia             
Words subtitled: 400 million+                           
Subtitle languages: 160+                    
Content highlights: 14K+ hours of global prime-time content from 40+ global broadcasters             
: Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Neoteny Labs, SK Telecom, SingTel, BBCWorldwide, 500 StartUps

Rakuten, Inc. (4755:Tokyo), is one of the world's leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of services for consumers and businesses, including in the areas of e-commerce, eReading, travel, banking, securities, credit cards, e-money, logistics, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. In both 2012 and 2013, Rakuten was ranked among the world's Top 10 most innovative companies in Forbes magazine's annual list. Rakuten is expanding worldwide and currently operates throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. The headquarters of the company founded in 1997 with over 10,000 employees and partner staff worldwide, Tokyo. For more information: http://global.rakuten.com/corp/.  

ABOUT VIKI           
Viki is a global TV site with TV shows, movies and other premium content, translated into more than 160 languages by a community of avid fans. With tens of millions of viewers each month, more than 2 billion videos viewed and over 400 million words translated, Viki uniquely brings global prime-time entertainment to new audiences and unlocks new markets and revenue opportunities for content owners. Viki was named a Technology Pioneer 2014 by the World Economic Forum. Viki investors include Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Neoteny Labs, BBC Worldwide and SK Planet, a subsidiary of SK Telecom; among others. The company has offices in San Francisco, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo.

SOURCE Viki, Inc.